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“Mental muscle” is a memorable term. “System” is not, because it could mean anything. That’s why I’m picking a new word. Help me pick a good one.
In the comments on some recent posts, I’ve seen the confusion caused by my term “systems,” referring to the forces a mage channels. Even Ananael, a long-time reader was confused. And when a term confuses multiple readers, the problem isn’t them, it’s me.
So I’m choosing another name for “system.” I don’t have one yet, but this post is my attempt to figure it out. Can you give me a hand?
The Origin of “System”
I’d like to say the name was because the forces themselves process information, and seem to be intelligent but not sentient, just like a computer system. (They are, but I didn’t realize that until later).
But really, it was just sloppiness. I started exploring the concept of systems around age 14, and the “system of magick” that meant “specific rituals and the beliefs behind them” became a “magickal system,” meaning “the forces those rituals invoked.” I didn’t read many magick books until college, and by then, the term was set.
So I can hardly blame you for being confused about the term, when I wasn’t exactly clear on it myself. And that’s why it’s time for a new one.
The most obvious choice is “egregore.” It also refers to forces a mage channels, more or less. I’m not that well-read on it, so let’s turn to Wikipedia:
Egregore is an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people.
This sounds pretty aligned to my previous understanding and my recent discussion with Kat. So I’ll treat that as the standard definition.
“Egregore” is a widely-used occult term. Most serious mages will understand it, and get the gist of what I’m saying. Good for bringing in new readers.
I did some manifesting, and it said exactly that: Using “egregore” will make it easier for newcomers to start reading my blog, and once they decide to explore magick with me, then they will learn the details of my definition.
The standard definition has little to do with my use. I’m not talking about “collective thought forms” or “group minds.” I tried replacing “system” with “egregore” in a few sentences, and it just sounds off.
But the real test isn’t whether the term sounds good to me. I can adjust. What matters is how it sounds to readers. So let me ask you: Do these sentences sound natural?
- The psychic egregore you use is configured for emergencies and physical danger. Let me connect you to another egregore that’s better for finances.
- I traced the connection from the attacking spirit to the egregore it uses, aligned my communication to the egregore’s signature, and sent the egregore a message to stop connecting to me and de-authorize the spirit, making it stop responding to the spirit’s commands.
- Doing a ritual triggers the egrigore associated with that ritual style to connect to your mind. The egregore is takes the ritual actions, along with your thoughts, as instructions, and performs the magick you requested.
- When the egregore writes ideas into your thoughts, it projects the image of a deity you’re familiar with to ease the communication, similar to how a robot might have a human face to make people more naturally talk to it.
Do those sound natural? To me, the ideas are similar enough at a distance, but up close they clash, like wearing two shades of green.
But I can adjust myself more easily than I can adjust the rest of the world, so if they sound natural to you, maybe “egregore” is the way to go.
The other option is to make my own term.
“Mental muscle” conjures a good metaphor. You need it defined once, but after that, it’s easy to remember. (Or so I believe. If I’m wrong here, please let me know). But “system” doesn’t suggest a metaphor, so it’s hard to remember.
I’ll start by describing systems. They are:
- Intelligent but not sentient.
- External (as opposed to mental muscles, which are part of your mind).
- They drive magick, providing information or energy, shifting probabilities, etc, based on your instructions.
- They handle the details. You need to know the instruction, but not how to implement it.
From here on, I’m going to think as I write, because maybe something I discard will turn on a light for you.
Something focused on driving magick, like “energy engine,” isn’t good because systems aren’t the primary driver in direct magick. That’s mental muscles.
“Channeled intelligence” sounds too much like a spirit that talks through a psychic.
And I realize, those names are more explanations than metaphors, which is probably why they don’t work.
Computers are a natural analogy for systems. They’re intelligent, but not sentient. Computer programs are build for a particular task, in the same way that systems are specialized for a particular type of psychic information, energy healing or other task. They’re external, and primarily process information. They respond to instructions, and you don’t need to know how software works in order to use it. (Do you know the algorithm to turn the a sound file into an MP3? Does that stop you from ripping a CD?) And they can be hacked.
Also, I know computers well. I’ve programmed them, built them, hacked them, and pretty much everything else.
Reality’s software? I like “software,” both the specificity and the way it the contrast with hardware, suggesting how systems aren’t physical objects. But “reality’s” is throw-away word.
Spirit software? Alliterative but kind of silly.
Sentient software? Sounds great, except systems are intelligent but not sentient.
Psychic software? Psychic systems are a particular type of systems, they handle information about the future rather than energy healing or Thelemic rituals. So “psychic software” would refer to that subtype, not the overarching category.
But “something software” sounds like a good match to “mental muscles.” Any ideas?
Or if my use of “egregore” above sounds natural, I might just go with that.
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