Role-Playing Games & Popular Occultism
Open doors to forbidden realms and spiritual seductions
By Berit Kjos - February 3, 2003
Skip down to: 1. "Softening up" for occult revival
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"Video games producers are getting smarter. They lead you to sites where you can be instructed by a real life occultist. You talk to hardcore people."1 Peter Lanz, a former member of the occult Order of the Golden Dawn
"The more that people play violent video games, the greater their levels of aggressive behavior."2 Evidence That Violent Video Games Help Spur Aggression"
"The toys children play with depict powerful creatures of the darkness. Now, games give explicit instruction in the rituals and methods of the occult."3 N.R.K.
"Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesians 5:11
"What I learned in secret is now everywhere," said Peter Lanz, a former occultist.1 In a recent telephone conversation, he explained how today's children and youth explore occult worlds and experience magical thrills that seem harmless. The lure of secret powers -- especially when experienced through role-playing games that immerse players in mythical worlds and virtual experiences -- stir obsessive curiosity about forbidden forces. And, as they captivate their young fans, they fast erode the traditional values that built safe boundaries and brought warnings of danger.
Peter knows this all too well. He was active in occult work for about 30 years. As an occultist he was initiated to the level of a 9o-2o, and was a Temple Master in the "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn" best known for its most infamous member, Aleister Crowley. Peter studied and mastered a number of other systems of ritual magick. [See note on the spelling of Magick]
"I did everything God considers an abomination in Deuteronomy 18," he told me. Then he described the captivating power of role-playing games -- one of today's most enticing pathways to spiritual bondage.
"Are you familiar with aviation simulators?" he asked. "They simulate the inside of a cockpit in flying a plane. You can learn how to fly a plane in a flight simulator. But in a simulator there is no risk. All personal danger has been removed. When you play these occult games, you're doing the exact same thing that you would be dong in a flight simulator. No risk."
So why not try the real thing?
Many players do. "These kids are easily drawn into occult groups through [role-playing] tournaments," said Peter. "When kids transition from simulation -- when they actually experience the POWER that is available to them through the rituals they are learning to perform under the guise of 'fantasy' -- that power becomes like an addiction and they get hooked. But they don't see that."
"I could walk up to any of these teens who showed promise," he continued, "and I could put my hand on their shoulder, look them in the eye and say, 'If you get a rush from this, how would like to do it for real?' No one has ever answered no."
"Softening up" for occult revival - Hermetic Magic & Hegel's dialectic process
Why would our nation, so richly blessed by God, embrace the occult? What caused this amazing change in values? How could it happen so fast!
Actually, our nation had already been "softened up" by the 1960s when the rising rebellion against God erupted into public view. The century-old pursuit of social solidarity based on Georg Hegel's occult philosophy and consensus process had been an effective tool for change.
Hegel's 19th century pattern for "group thinking" denied God's absolute truths and trained people to adapt to "continual change" and group consensus. By year 2000, it had been embraced by schools, corporations, community organizations, mainline churches and political structures across America. Through the global media, people around the world have caught Hegel's vision of spiritual synthesis --an enticing blend of spiritual illusions and practices that appeal to our capricious human nature.
Hegel studied alchemy, Kabbalah (also caballa, kaballa, etc.) and theosophy. All were influenced by the heretical teachings of Gnosticism. He "read widely on Mesmerism, psychic phenomena, dowsing, precognition and sorcery. He publicly associated himself with known occultists.... He believed in an Earth Spirit and corresponded with colleagues about the nature of magic.... He aligned himself, informally, with 'Hermetic' societies such as the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians" and embraced their symbolic systems of sacred circles, mystical triangles and astrological signs.5See excerpts from the book pictured.
Considering Hegel's occult connections, it's not surprising that his teachings would undermine Biblical faith and all opposing facts. Nor is it strange that the postmodern generation has been largely immunized against genuine Christianity. After all, Hegel's revolutionary dialectic process was the center-piece of Soviet brainwashing. It effectively purged God's unchanging truths and filled the vacuum with evolving "truths" and enticing dreams.
While Communist leaders embraced Hegel's process, they ignored his occult beliefs. In contrast, the Western world began to restore those pagan roots long before revolutionary baby-boomers began shouting their demands for sensual freedom and earth-centered spirituality. [See Saving the Earth] In other words, the sixties didn't initiate this radical change; the turmoil of the sixties was the result of the psycho-social program of "re-learning" which had begun to transform America decades earlier.
As the old moral and spiritual boundaries were torn down, the mainstream media preached tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of forbidden thrills. Before long, occult secrets emerged from their centuries-old closets and claimed their place in mainstream entertainment.
Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing
"Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether.""Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether."3 Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing
In his 1998 article titled Popular Occultism, Alexis Dolgorukii shows how the world of fantasy complemented the rise of modern and postmodern occultism:
“During the 1960's, thanks to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien... there began a tremendous public fascination with what is called ‘Swords and Sorcery Fantasy’ and that fascination has continued and intensified to this day.... A vast number of films and computer games and arcade games echo this same preoccupation....
“[This ‘popular occultism’ appeared during 1870-1925]... The primary ‘movers and shakers’... were people like Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Eliphas Levi... Rudolph Steiner, Aleister Crowley, A.E. Waite... Alice Bailey, Annie Besant....
“Whether we speak of ‘Theosophy’, or The Golden Dawn, or The Orderae Templi Orientalis (O.T.O.)... or any other of the truly enormous number of tiny groups all enraptured by the same glamour, what it is with which we are truly dealing is ‘Popular Occultism’; and it is just as much ‘Swords and Sorcery Fantasy’ as the works of Tolkien....” http://www.parascience.org/popular.htm
Peter Lanz was associated with both OTO and the Order of the Golden Dawn. Founded by Aleister Crowley, its teachings -- like those of other occult 'orders' -- beckon anyone caught in the obsessive web of occult role-playing. That's why we, who trust God, need to recognize our enemy, resist his tempting strategies and know the truths that counter these deadly deceptions. The safety of our children depends on it. So,
Pagan fantasies join the digital explosion
"...be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole Armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Eph 6:10-12
While "popular occultism" was imbedding its pagan images, myths and monsters into our modern culture, the world was rapidly adapting to a computerized media. The two seemed made for each other.
"Magic is the science of the imagination, the art of engineering consciousness and discovering the virtual forces that connect the body-mind with the physical world," wrote Erik Davis in his article, "Technopagans." Showing the impact of pagan thrills on the cold logical world of computer language, he introduced Mark Pesce, a pagan leader in computer innovation:
"Mark Pesce is a technopagan, a participant in a small but vital subculture of digital savants who keep one foot in the emerging technosphere and one foot in the wild and woolly world of Paganism.... an anarchic, earthy, celebratory spiritual movement that attempts to reboot the magic, myths, and gods of Europe's pre-Christian people....
"A startling number of Pagans work and play in technical fields, as sysops, computer programmers, and network engineers. ...
"Over the millennia, alchemists, Kabbalists, and esoteric Christians developed a rich storehouse of mental tools.... It's no accident that these 'hermetic' arts are named for Hermes, the Greek trickster god of messages and information....
"Using a combination of ceremonial performance, ritual objects, and imagination, Pagans carve out these tightly bounded zones in both physical and psychic space. Pagan rituals vary quite a bit, but the stage is often set by invoking the four elements that the ancients believed composed all matter....
"...you find more intimate correspondences between computer culture and Paganism's religion of the imagination. One link is science fiction and fantasy fandom, a world whose role playing, nerd humor, and mythic enthusiasm has bred many a Pagan."6
"Both cyberspace and magical space are purely manifest in the imagination," says Pesce. "Both spaces are entirely constructed by your thoughts and beliefs."6
The characters birthed by Tolkien's imagination fit right in. That's why the first generation of mythmakers and technopagans would masquerade as wizards, hobbits, dwarves and other Middle Earth characters during the pioneering years of computer conventions. And that's why the emerging world of Dungeons & Dragons adopted Tolkien's orcs, dwarves, trolls and elves. Tolkien's mystical realms set the stage and built the pattern for America's future game-makers.
It makes sense. “The makers of D&D were trained in euro magic -- all the elements of the medieval craft, same as Tolkien," says Peter. "As an occult simulation, this system offers a smooth ride into the real world of euro magic."
In fact, the most popular role-playing games blend fact and fantasy, myth and and history together into a virtual reality that stirs the imagination and implants its dark images in the minds of the players. For example, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play -- like the new Tolkien games -- is "set in a medieval fantasy world" populated with a vast diversity of orcs, ogres, dwarfs, goblins, wizards, gods and sorcerers. It is -
"...very similar to early renaissance Europe.... There is a magic in this world that makes it special to the fans. This is partly the dark and sinister atmosphere.. and partly the easy and fast game mechanics."
"When role-playing, you have to act out your part and the Game Master (GM) rewards you for good acting, for making the character you play come to life and for your interactions with the world.... There is the ever present danger of corruption by the dark gods, but many mortal men are more than able to corrupt themselves with no extra help."
The ancient message behind role-playing magic
"I was taught in ritual magick how to go to different planes of existence outside the physical body," continued Peter. "I could create a realm there in which I could practice ritual magick and perfect my magical skills. What I did on the physical plane was what I had practiced on the astral plane through creative visualizations. Through my will and imagination, I made things happen on the physical plane. As above, so below! This ritual magick is a manifestation of the power of your will."
His words reminded me of Starhawk's formula for magic and spells. Author of The Spiral Dance and founder of the "Covenant of the Goddess" she taught her followers that,
"To work magic is to weave the unseen forces into form, to soar beyond sight, to explore the uncharted dream realm of the hidden reality... to leap beyond imagination into that space between the worlds where fantasy becomes real; to be at once animal and god...
Spells [and magic]... require the combined faculties of relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection... To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol."7
"As above, so below!" These four words summarize the core of magick, explained Peter. But it was new to me, so I did an Internet search. Countless sites came up, linking the occult phrase to occult beliefs such as theosophy, kundalini yoga, the dialectic philosophy behind the yin-yang symbol and Theodynamics. The latter deals with "cosmic or First Force energy and the frequencies supposedly generated by the shape of the pyramid."8
A more useful site gave the history and meaning of this simple phrase. But before you read the summary below, let me explain why I share this with you. As you have seen, these old occult teachings -- once hidden behind closed doors in secret societies and mystical brotherhoods -- have now gone mainstream. Yet, few recognize their dark, occult nature or the forces behind their timeless formulas. We cannot afford to be ignorant any longer. To avoid experiencing evil, we need to discern the evil. So take note of the esoteric concepts in the excerpt below. Many of these have been adapted to Christian counseling, mystical prayer, holistic health and other familiar practices. They sound good to those who are blind to the popular "wiles of the devil":
"This message theorizes that man is the counterpart of God on earth; as God is man's counterpart in heaven. Therefore, it is a statement of an ancient belief that man's actions on earth parallel the actions of God in heaven. ...
"To the magician the magical act, that of causing a transformation in a thing or things without any physical contact, is accomplished by an imaginative act accompanied by the will that the wanted change will occur. The magical act and imaginative act becomes one and the same. The magician knows with certainty that for the change to occur he must will it to happen and firmly believe it will happen....
"To bring about such a change, the magician uses the conception of 'dynamic interconnectedness' to describe the physical world as the sort of thing that imagination and desire can effect. ... Mind and body, galaxy and atom, sensation and stimulus, are intimately bound. Witchcraft strongly imbues the view that all things are independent and interrelated....
"The purpose of all rituals in ceremonial magick is to unite the microcosm with the macrocosm to join God, or gods when invoked, with the human consciousness. When such a supreme union is achieved the subject and object becomes one. This is because the magician feels that he is consciously in touch with all elements of the universe, therefore, he can control them.... This feeling intensifies the more the magician successfully practices his skills.
"When feeling unison with the universe the magician knows he has reached his Higher or True Self because he has attained mastery of himself and the universe. Thus he...receives the power of the superiors and of the inferiors.' Therefore, he 'hast the glory of the whole world." 9
This is a devious lie! But it's a message that Satan, masquerading as an "Angel of Light," has used to deceive God's people since the beginning of time. Remember what God tells us about this cruel "prince of the power of the air:"
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars... I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit." Isaiah 14:12-15
Chaos magick and dark arts
Satan neither keeps his promises nor follows our rules. Behind all the tempting promises of worldly unity lurks a cold, heartless cruelty that few Americans can even imagine. But those who still remember the Nazi concentration camps or bear the scars of torture in Communist prisons understand the terror of a human nature trained and dominated by the forces of darkness.
Peter was part of that dark cruel world, and his description was chilling:
"Trained occultists will purge all love and all hate. They look for those who have no love or hate, but are predators. If you are part of the occult world and are not a predator, you become a sacrifice. If you demonstrate fear, or emotion, they don't want you. Games teach you to be a predator – without risking any consequences. No one can harm you. So why not try the real thing? Many do.
"If you look at your card games, they are used to kill or incapacitate your opponent. This is flight simulation for ceremonial magick. Any form of real or ritual magick. You conjure entities that go out and attack your enemies.
"In the games, the entities pictured on the cards show the levels of power. Pokemon fans dealt with elemental beings. Yu-gi-oh and Magic the Gathering teach kids to invoke demonic entities, serviters and fallen angelics.
"In the game, you put your characters out there to be slaughtered. You sacrifice your pawn to gain some points. If an occultist aims for people power at the top, he must remove the people in front of him.
"When these predators see food -- gullible, captivated players -- they never ignore the opportunity. If you are not dressed for spiritual war, you become their victim."
Though Satan's tactics have worked well through the ages, he does introduce new twists to satisfy all who are hungry for new occult adventures. Among the more recent ones is something called chaos magic. An article titled "Out of Scientific Magic Systems" compares this new role-playing magic with the old formula-oriented magic:
"RPG [role playing games] magic systems can roughly be divided up into "fixed spell" and "freeform" mechanics. Fixed spell systems are often highly mechanistic.... Freeform mechanics, on the other hand, call for the GM [Game Master, referee] to judge the difficulty of a spell."10
The next excerpts may sound confusing, but it illustrates chaos magic well. Notice how it fits postmodern thinking. Remember, no facts or rules. Just mix and match the religious experience of your own dreams. The author of the article began with this brief dialogue:
"Me: My religion is like a game of Dungeons and Dragons. The first thing you have to do is figure out the rules all by yourself.
"Him: Sounds like Chaos Magick.
"Me: Yeah, kind of.... My religion -- Kemet -- is lumped together with other reality maps. They are called hermetic, neopagan, alchemy, and New Age. None of those words is really accurate. It is more like Sumerian/Canaanite/Hittite...
"The most obvious characteristic of my religion is that it is completely practical. The last thing I ask one of my students to bring is some theory from a book. As in Zen, I am interested in experience, not in the words that describe it, and never the analysis of anything.
"Several rituals do this: LCC's Eucharist is one [twisted views of Christian concepts tend to permeate occult systems] , Kemet's Theurgia is another. What they do can be summed up in the following--
- As above, so below
- As without, so within"11
Finally, meet Tyagi: "Like many technopagans,
Tyagi ... explored role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.... After reading
and deeply researching philosophy, mysticism, and the occult, he began cobbling
together his own mythic structures, divination systems, and rituals - an
eclectic spirituality well suited to the Net's culture of complex interconnection.
"He also delved heavily into chaos magic, a rather novel development on the occult fringe that's well represented on the Net. Rather than work with traditional occult systems, chaos magicians either construct their own rules or throw them out altogether, spontaneously enacting rituals that break through fixed mental categories and evoke unknown - and often terrifying - entities and experiences.
"'Using popular media is an important aspect of chaos magic,' Tyagi says.... 'Most Pagans would get online and say, ‘Let's get together somewhere and do a ritual.’ Chaos magicians would say, ‘Let's do the ritual online.’"6
Whether traditional magic or chaos magic -- the results may well look like Christian miracles to a blinded world. The Bible warns us that many will be deceived. But those who love God's Word and refuse to participate in this darkness will be eternally safe in their Lord, Jesus Christ:
"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness....
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught." 2 Thessalonians 2:7-16
Your choice: truth or myth?
Those who love and follow God, will be repelled by occult myths. And those who love today's popular occultism will run from God's unchanging truths and boundaries. For if we are filled with His Spirit and follow His way, we will -- by His life in us -- "abhor what is evil and cling to what is good." It's that simple.
Other Scriptures are even more specific. For example, 2 Timothy 4:2-5 tell us to --
"Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (or myths). But you be watchful in all things..."
The world cringes when it hears these truths. Its myths and fantasies are too enticing. That's why people find all kinds of arguments to justify their misdirected love.
In an article titled, "J.R.R. Tolkien: Truth and Myth," Tolkien's biographer, Joseph Pearce, wrote:
"... the power of Tolkien lies in the way that he succeeds, through myth, in making the unseen hand of providence felt by the reader.
“In his mythical creations, or sub-creations as he would call them, he shows how the unseen hand of God is felt far more forcefully in myth than it is ever felt in fiction. Paradoxically, fiction works with facts, albeit invented facts, whereas myth works with truth, albeit truth dressed in fancy disguises.
"Furthermore, since facts are physical and truth is metaphysical, myth, being metaphysical, is spiritual.” 12
Do you see the strange reasoning? For example, if Tolkien's mythical realm of occult magic and multiple gods "makes the unseen hand of providence felt by the reader," what message does it actually teach? Does Pearce really believe that God's all wise providence can be felt through the man-made gods in the Lord of the Rings? If so, the seductive myth has blinded his eyes and distorted his view of God's reality.
But that's just what myth does. It provides counterfeit answers to life's deepest questions and shuts the door to the only God who can provide eternal, life-giving answers. Small wonder the UK-based Tolkien Society chose the uroborus, a circular serpent swallowing its tail as a symbol for its organization. On one of its pages, this pagan society highlights the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Peter's former battle ground:
"Dedicated to such practices as ceremonial magick and divination, it valued these more as gateways to true understanding of reality than for their intrinsic merit."3
Do you see the raging battle for truth and clarity? What, then, can parents do if their children are caught up in the mystical worlds of occult fantasy games? Peter made these suggestions:
1. "If your child is a professing Christian, don't immediately condemn the games. Instead, explain that the Christian life is based on a belief system -- on Jesus Christ. Then help the child evaluate the game based on His teachings and the 10 commandments. This gives them a Biblical base to work from."
"If your child wants to keep the game, ask why. (They all do.) His answer will show you what the child doesn't understand -- or why he is resisting."
2. "Teach your child that every part of life must reflect his relationship with Christ. Christians are vulnerable because they compartmentalize their God. Kids say, 'It’s only a game! It’s just fantasy.' They don’t see their God as part of their daily life and play, so they leave Him out. In contrast, occultists base every thought and action on their beliefs."
To prepare your child for daily battles against tempting spiritual counterfeits, consider these three other outlines of vital truths.
The Armor of God - These six truths expose and counter today's most popular deceptions. Even more important, they show us the way to an intimate relationship with God.
The Lord's Prayer - These truths parallel the ones in the armor of God and serve the same purposes.
The Beatitudes - Jesus' message, recorded in Matthew 5, show us a standard for holiness that is far higher than we can achieve, but it comes with the promise that -- by His life in us -- He will make us all He intends us to be. It ends with the reminder that those who follow Jesus will also share in His suffering. Therefore our children need to be prepared for persecution. Uncompromising faith and God's unchanging truths have become intolerable in today's postmodern age.
13 I was once dead in my sins and transgressions when I followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Thank you for calling me to Yourself and allowing me to become Your bondservant.
The desire of my heart NOW is to help make You REAL to Christians and to expose the schemes of Your adversary and by training up effective warriors for You, my Savior.
My prayer for Your children is that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of their hearts may be enlightened in order that they may know the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great POWER for us who believe.
Grant those of us who seek to shed divine light on the darkness the strength, hope and perseverance to run the race and complete the course in the name of Yeshua. Amen
Two helpful charts that show the nature of the battle and God's way to victory:
Postmodern versus Biblical thinking: This chart lists the main postmodern obstacles to victorious faith. It shows the new meanings given to traditional "Christian" terms, and it lists Scriptures that clarify the confusion produced by postmodern thinking. Knowing these truths will strengthen your child's conscience and help anchor his or her mind in truth.
Brainwashing & How to Resist It - This chart provides another list of vital Scriptures that protect our minds against occult seductions.
See also Toying with Death
Magic or Magick? Peter explained his use of the word magick rather than magic. "Magick spelled with a K is the correct spelling for any magick that is occult and ritual in nature [achieved by invoking demonic forces] and is not the magic that illusionists perform on stage."
But while magic (without the final k) often refers to the tricks of illusionists, the same word is also used -- as you saw in many quotations above -- by contemporary witches, wizards and sorcerers to mean magic performed by the ritual invocation of demonic forces.
Some have viewed the Hermetic traditions, with their sophisticated formulas for occult knowledge, as a form of Egyptian-based gnosticism." [The Gnostic Society] Children familiar with the dark realm of Yu-Gi-Oh's Egyptian imagery might naturally be attracted to the Hermetic magic.
1. Not his real name. For his safety, we are calling him Peter Lanz.
2. Evidence That Violent Video Games Help Spur Aggression
3. This message came to us in an email from another person well acquainted with occult philosophies. For his safety, I prefer to keep him anonymous as well, but I can forward any questions you might have to his email address.
4. "The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was an English expression of the Nineteenth-Century occult revival in Europe. Dedicated to such practices as ceremonial magic and divination, it valued these more as gateways to true understanding of reality than for their intrinsic merit."http://www.tolkiensociety.org/1992/tcc_ab09.html
5. Glenn Alexander Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2001, pages 1-3. This Hermetic Tradition originated in Egypt. According to The Gnostic Society, "The Hermetic tradition is usually understood as a form of "pagan Gnosticism", developing in Egypt during the same historical period that saw the flowering of the Christian Gnostic tradition."
6. Erik Davis, "Technopagans" at http://www.techgnosis.com/technopagans.html
7. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 62.
8. Theodynamics at http://www.theodynamics.com/theo/volume2/chapter10.html
12. Joseph Pearce. "J.R.R. Tolkien: Truth and Myth." Lay Witness (September 2001).
13. Psalm 135:3 states: "And our Lord is above all gods." This refers to the world's false gods -- including the demons that have been worshipped as gods throughout history. 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 tells us that "...the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons."
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