Advanced Ideas in Communication

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This is the least sexy title I’ve given an article in a long time. I did it on purpose. Today, I just want to talk to my long-time readers and true fans, those of you willing to wrestle with hard ideas to go somewhere cool with me.

Last time I talked about communicating with words rather than intents, I oversimplified my magick. I thought it was just the normal simplifying everyone does when they explain an idea, but after talking with Ananael and writing this article, I’m realizing it truly was oversimplifying. Today I want to fix that, but it’s going to take some effort on both our parts to do it. Thus, the unsexy title.

On my post about doubt and manifesting, Ananael left some really excellent questions about manifesting and ethereal software. I’m going to answer them one at a time.

Here are two other posts to help new readers get up to speed on this topic. Note: The term “system” is an old synonym for what I now call “ethereal software.”

Ananael says:

The thing is, doubt does effect manifestation. It shows up in my own experiments and those of every other magician I’ve ever spoken with on the subject, with the possible exception of you.

Thank you for your honesty. It helps me know where I’m not connecting.

This is one of the things I’ve been trying to explain, though I haven’t quite gotten there. Direct magick isn’t just a different way of looking at the same things. It’s about seeing more of magick’s moving parts than other styles, and using those extra parts to solve problems that other styles simply cannot. I’m not at all surprised that other mages, working without the parts I use and the techniques I’ve developed, cannot produce the same results. But I feel pompous and arrogant saying so, and I probably won’t be this blunt in general.

Part of it is, a bold claim like that requires substantial evidence, and I simply haven’t written enough case studies yet to expect anyone to jump on board yet. That’s one of my projects for this year.

Ananael says:

That’s one of the things that makes me somewhat skeptical about your “ethereal software” model, because I agree that the way you formulate it implies that doubt should be a non-factor.

Whether doubt matters depends on what you send to the ethereal software. See, the transmission is imperfect, particularly if the software has to handle 100% of the communication — and unless you are doing specific techniques I’ll write about soon, that’s the default. If it’s reading your mind, it will pick up the gist of the entire contents, but not the details. It will receive doubt mixed with your goal, rather than a complex sentence like “I’m doubting this will work but I really want you to ignore that doubt.”

Also, doubt about magick or manifesting in general may interfere with your mental posture, preventing you from properly engaging your mental muscles. In this post, I’m talking about doubting your ability to do this specific manifesting, not magick or manifesting in general.

Some of my models are conjecture, and some are based on personal experience. This one is based on personal experience. As I learned to help spirits and ethereal software by doing some steps of the communication myself, I’ve seen how imprecise the messages were. One of my exercises was to have a spirit read my thoughts and then repeat them back to me. Now, this is tricky, because you know what the answer should be, so you can very easily just hear what you know you should be receiving. But if you quiet your thoughts and really listen to the message from the spirit, you can see how the precision of what they read improves as you handle more of the communication, and how bad it is when they handle everything.

So, in summary: By default, ethereal software will handle 100% of the communication, which means it imprecisely picks up the entire contents of your mind, including doubts and anger and other things you didn’t intend to send.

Does that help clarify why doubt matters, even with ethereal software reading your intent?

Ananael says:

Now as for your explanation that the ethereal software can read your mental state and somehow incorporates it into your magick regardless of your stated intent, doesn’t that fly completely in the face of your idea that you should program ethereal software with words? If the software is reading your mind anyway and incorporating your thoughts into whatever it’s manifesting, it would seem to me that the precision of your language would be pointless in terms of the end result. Or am I missing something in your explanation?

This is that oversimplification I talked about. Here’s the complex version.

When I talked about communicating in words, I wasn’t referring to the practice of writing down your intent, or speaking your goals out loud. I was talking about the difference between focusing on your overall intent — which forces the ethereal software to read that overall intent all at once — vs focusing on one concept at a time, and sending the message one concept at a time, as just the intellectual concept, separate from any emotions. (The words, rather than the emotion or overall intent).

“Concept” is a vague word, so I talked about communicating in words. But I think that was misleading, because the significant part is not words vs images vs some other way of thinking. The significant part is sending one concept to time vs sending the whole intent all at once, and controlling the message to remove unhelpful emotions. Even if you’ve written down your intent, unless you’re doing specific magick techniques to step through the message as you communicate, you’re probably relying on the ethereal software to handle 100% of the communication, and you wind up sending the message as a whole, emotions and all.

Let me explain the emotional connotations a bit. Just like a spoken word carries an emotional tone and facial expression in addition to the actual word you speak, the concept you send carries the state of your mind, including the signatures of the parts that feel emotions. When I receive a message from a spirit, I can tell whether they’re distracted, excited to hear from me, or worried about something, based just on how they say hello. I feel their emotion and mental state when I read their message, like a tone of voice in my mind. (I only noticed these details of the communication when I started handling more of the communication. I couldn’t receive the emotions when the spirit was handling 100% of the communication.)

So, if you send the concept “make me successful,” along with the emotion of doubting that you will be successful, the ethereal software will pick that up. But, if you send one concept at that time (“make me” “successful”), you can focus on that one concept and control what emotions get attached to it. For manifesting, I prefer sending flat, unemotional words. There is a technique to doing that, too, that goes beyond breaking your message into individual concepts. But sending individual concepts leads to controlling which parts of your mind get included in the message, which leads to controlling the emotions attached to the method. So it’s at least three steps removed from the normal communication that ethereal software does by default.

Having written that, I see that it’s quite complicated. I forget that sometimes. I’ll write more about how to learn these techniques as I write the book. Thanks for reading all this and helping me figure out how to explain it.

At this point, let me ask: Does this help clarify what I’m talking about? Do you see why I can use these techniques to get results that other mages don’t get? Am I on the right track in explaining all this? Thanks.

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

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32 Responses to “Advanced Ideas in Communication”

  1. Ananael Qaa says:

    Yes, with this more technical description your point is a lot clearer.

    I will point out that it’s not exactly a new idea, though – Aleister Crowley wrote extensively about the idea of fixing the mind upon a single objective and dismissing stray or contradictory thoughts in order to make magick work well. In the Thelemic system that I practice it’s pretty much treated as a given.

    • Simon says:

      until I do more practical work with the methods these kind of explanations help blurry understandings become a bit less blurry. But Still blurry. What i got from it was that this is more than ‘fixing the mind on a single objective’. I do similar meditation exercises of ‘directing of thoughts’ where one tries to keep all chains of thought associations narrowly focused on 1 very specific area etc..all solid techniques for gaining control over one’s mind. And I still question Mike’s insistence that meditation is not really an important part of direct magick.

      I got the idea that Mike is talking about actually ‘packaging’ the thought/emotion bundle in a way that is fundamentally different to thought control. Achieving a level of control and granularity that is never thought of in most manifesting systems. ie when fully understood this goes “beyond breaking your message into individual concepts”.

      About as much as I managed to grasp for now.

      • Yes. Part of communication is fixing the mind on one thought, and I think people connect with this step because it’s something everyone can do right now.

        Part of communication is creating a network of connections between the ethereal muscles and the mind, so the ethereal muscles can pick up the signatures as I think.

        Another part of communication is packaging those signatures up, so they’re stable as I send them. And another part is altering those signatures in the right way, so they match the receiver’s mind — this is usually done half by the sender, and half by the receiver.

        Those steps are necessary for the manifesting techniques I use. But they’re also hard to do, and hard to explain. In the past, my writing skills weren’t up to the task. I’ll give it another try when I return to manifesting, or maybe sooner.

        Thanks for wrestling with these ideas, and for reminding me I need to cover this more!

  2. God this is advanced, in the sense that it is really challenging and worthwhile. I will have to break this down piece by piece for myself because I really respect your thinking Mike. :)

    This is the part I need to digest:

    “Just like a spoken word carries an emotional tone and facial expression in addition to the actual word you speak, the concept you send carries the state of your mind, including the signatures of the parts that feel emotions.”

    I wrestle with this idea given my presumption that the mental state or the “state of the mind,” should ideally, cohere within the “emotional tone”, [what one might call the emotional body.] In the ideal system, mental body and emotional body would work together as one, is what I am trying to suggest. I wonder why would this be optimal for the sort of outcomes that you believe are available?


  3. Synchronicity says:

    I like the fragmentation trick in the “make me successful” example.
    It’s a really neat solution to neutralize bad vibes and internal objections!

    I will systematically test it in future manifesting attempts.

  4. George says:

    The thing is, doubt does effect manifestation. It shows up in my own experiments and those of every other magician I’ve ever spoken with on the subject, with the possible exception of you.

    Thank you for your honesty. It helps me know where I’m not connecting. This is one of the things I’ve been trying to explain, though I haven’t quite gotten there. Direct magick isn’t just a different way of looking at the same things.

    This is a good point! If you are doing magick using the “decision + action + commitment” approach, in effect trying to send intention directly into the universe, then doubt has a major effect, because it means you don’t fully commit your intention.

    If, however, you are using a sigil or an existing servitor, then you’re just sending a message to something that’s already been established (doubt-free). Unless you doubt the outcome perhaps, but you can’t really doubt a communication so much.

    So that’s a good advantage in having an “known intermediary” like ethereal software / a system, that I hadn’t thought of.

    • Thanks! Just to put that into Direct Magick language:

      If you’re relying on the ethereal software to read your intent, then doubt may matter, because the software may misread doubt as part of your intent.

      If you’re doing the full communication technique, so you’re just sending concepts without emotions, doubts, etc, then your doubt doesn’t get delivered to the ethereal software, so it shouldn’t matter.

      If you’re using pre-programmed commands without adding details, then doubt probably doesn’t matter either. (An example is saying “awaken my ethereal muscles” to the book’s software, where you’re not telling it any details of how to do that.) So as long as it can recognize your command, it’ll execute that command, and should ignore doubts or communication errors. But, for manifesting, you almost always need to specify details, so this method isn’t applicable there.

      • George says:

        But, for manifesting, you almost always need to specify details, so this method isn’t applicable there.

        Which is interesting too. If using the ‘direct’ method (i.e. no intermediaries), one perhaps summons the feeling/image of what one intends and releases it in some way. You don’t really specify in words, perhaps.

        Ethereal software seems a bit pickier, and you have to rely on it being capable of understanding what you’re talking about, even though you yourself know – is that right?

        That’s maybe a disadvantage: using direct intention, the meaning is clear (it just is what it is), when communicating with another entity, you have a (language/knoweldge) barrier that needs to be overcome.

        • Hi George, I don’t think there is a direct method of manifesting. I know that some people like to think of their thoughts leaving their head and altering the external world, but I see that as a way to communicate intent to the person’s unconscious, not as a literal description of what happens.

          In my view, all manifesting is based on ethereal software. Just, that interaction is often unconscious and unacknowledged. But the problems I ran into, I expect everyone will run into at some point.

          The thing is, most people will never realize that their manifesting failed due to a communication error. See, receiving error messages from ethereal software isn’t easy. It requires the sort of multi-step communication techniques I was talking with Synchronicity about. So, someone who “sends out their intent” won’t receive an error. They’ll just notice that their manifesting failed. (Or maybe they’ll get lucky, get a success despite the failed manifesting, and never realize it didn’t work.) The point is, by learning to communicate more clearly and working through these errors, we can get manifesting that works better, and more reliably.

          It’s OK if you view magick differently. Much of this is my best guess on how manifesting works, based on incomplete evidence. But hopefully, this reply helps clarify my thinking, and explains a bit of why I work the way I work.

          Thanks for reading!

          • George says:

            I guess I don’t really mean “direct”, because communicating to ‘your notion of the universe’ is still communicating to an object of some sort. I suppose I mean, not explicitly referencing a particular system. (I could have been clearer.)

            I wonder, though, if not referencing a particular system means that the choice of appropriate system becomes part of your intent. Because if you send to ‘the universe’ then you don’t need to customise your language for the knowledge of a particular piece of ‘software’.

            But you’re right that you won’t get an “error message”, because you’ve not linked to anything to get a “message back”. You’ve ‘launched’ in an altered state of consciousness, likely, and then deliberately ‘let it go’.

            • George says:

              Just to add, what do you tend to mean when you use the term “the unconscious”? It’s pretty ‘black box’ I think. It likely means pretty much “everything that’s not conscious”, which probably = the universe except for you? (As opposed to just ‘bits of your mind that are in the dark’.)

            • On communicating with your notion of the universe: That’s right. And many systems of magick call the force they channel “The Universe.” It’s just a terms difference. In Direct Magick, we call that force “ethereal software.”

              I’ve worked with several psychics to improve the ethereal software they used. In my experience, people use one or a small number of softwares. Not referencing a particular magickal system or ethereal software means you get whatever ethereal software your unconscious happens to like. Maybe that’s good for the given task, maybe not. I like to make this decision consciously, so if the software turns out to be bad for the task, I can use a different one.

              Although, it would be neat to have a “search ethereal software,” where you give it a topic and it searches all the manifesting software it knows for ones that do that topic well. Maybe a future project. Thanks!

            • And on the unconscious: I’m referring specifically to the person’s unconscious mind. That includes the person’s ethereal muscles (unless they’ve taken steps to make those muscles conscious.) It does not include things outside the person, such as ethereal software or the rest of the universe.

              • George says:

                Okay – so, things that are within the boundary of the body that one could make conscious if one made the effort.

                I’m thinking, here, about how the communication happens if we are not specific about the target software or whatever.

  5. George says:

    Although I guess ‘the universe’ is a bit more non-specific.

    Not referencing a particular magickal system or ethereal software means you get whatever ethereal software your unconscious happens to like.

    Interesting – or is there already such a mechanism in place, that selects the appropriate software? Or is there a ‘general program’? It seems there must be. The idea that ‘your unconscious likes things’ doesn’t seem very persuasive to me – in that I’m not sure there is such a thing exactly. I think it’s more likely that ‘things are always listening’? (Because you really don’t need to do ‘gnosis’ and so on to get results, I find.)

    That such an approach is more susceptible to ‘doubt’ is perhaps because, without a definite target, feeling that you are just launching stuff into the air, it’s not as easy to persuade yourself to ‘commit’ as it is when you can actually ‘feel’ the thing you’re communicating with. (If you do commit, then communication will happen, and so will results – but if you doubt, then you are in basically not really sending a direction properly at all.)

    • I haven’t seen any such mechanism. Maybe I missed it, but I have asked around.

      Sometimes, several pieces of ethereal software all made by the same group of spirits will know each other. You tell the manifesting software you want to do a healing, it points you to that group’s healing software. But that’s different than what we’re talking about.

      And thanks for pointing out a spot I needed to clarify. It’s not that your unconscious just happens to like one of the hundreds of ethereal softwares out there. It’s that you have one or a few softwares that are connected to you, either because you’re initiated into that system of magick, or because your relatives use it (often seems to happen with psychics), or a few other reasons. Then, when you focus on an intent, your unconscious sends it to that software. If you have multiple softwares — maybe a psychic who does Golden Dawn and OTO — then your unconscious will pick one of them that it happens to like.

      And you bring up another possible mechanism for doubt making someone’s magick not work: If they can’t get into the right headspace to engage their ethereal muscles, they won’t get any results. That sounds pretty reasonable to me.

      • George says:

        And thanks for pointing out a spot I needed to clarify. It’s that you have one or a few softwares that are connected to you.

        That makes much more sense, thanks. I did wonder, though, whether everyone has some sort of ‘general ethereal software’ connected to them.

        Only because the following is in my experience true, at least to some extent (this is what got me thinking):

        Could this mean that what we use to represent our desire is arbitrary? And what does this say about the sigilisation process, and therefore magick itself?

        It doesn’t stop with glyphs; instead of a geometric doodle, you could use a number, or a combination of numbers. Or how about a word, nonsensical or otherwise? What if we decide that a gesture represents your desire instead, like a wave of the hand? Or some other physical movement, like a dance? What if we decide that a certain dance means it will rain?

        Whenever a magician wonders ‘what is the correct method of getting a result?’ they are falling victim to the fog of simplicity—because what you do, and the result you get, is your decision. There are no laws (unless you create them) and there are no secrets (unless you pretend).

        – Alan Chapman, Advanced Magick for Beginners

        In other words, that deciding that a certain action means a certain thing, and performing that action, works pretty well. So that would imply something fairly multi-purpose somewhere?

        • I haven’t read Chapman, but whenever I see someone saying, “You can do magick any way you want,” I always figure they’re talking about the step of getting your intent to your unconscious ethereal muscles. And, yes, you can get your intent to your unconscious in lots of ways. Deciding that a sigil, word, sound, etc. means a certain thing sounds like a perfectly good way to do it.

          My interest is in what your ethereal muscles do after they get that intent, and in guiding them to do that process better. We’re solving for different problems. That’s why your authors keep saying “There are hundreds of ways of [getting your intent to your unconscious],” while I keep saying, “There are only a few [underlying mechanisms that your ethereal muscles use to create change in the world].”

          • George says:

            Yes, that’s good: the intent is all that matters. I view the ingredients on that side to be:

            intent/decision + corresponding action + commitment

            That is indeed a good thing about the software idea. So in terms of what you do, well that doesn’t matter much, what matters is how clearly you are communicating that intent to “whatever it is that is going to make the change on your behalf”.

            Okay, that connects the dots quite nicely.

            • Maybe. I’m excited that you’re connecting dots, but I’m worried you may be connecting dots that don’t actually connect.

              You’re right: When using ethereal software, all that matters is clearly delivering your instruction to the ethereal software. But that’s different than clearly delivering your intent to your unconscious.

              If we’re talking about belief, thoughts, and visualizations, we’re probably talking about delivering an intent to the unconscious. Which is important, but isn’t really my focus.

              What kinds of techniques help us deliver an intent to ethereal software? A common one is to engage a specific part of your mind as you think. More involved techniques look like this:

              Rituals can be either. If it’s a DIY ritual someone just wrote, it’s probably about communicating intent to the unconscious. If it’s a standard ritual, like for Enochian magick, it may be bound to specific commands within the ethereal software, similar to how I bound my book’s sigil to its ethereal software.

              (Then there’s also magick that’s not about delivering intent to ethereal software. But let’s leave that aside for now.)

              So, I’m excited that you’re connecting this stuff to what you do, and I want to make sure that we’re both thinking of the same activities when we talk about that.

              • George says:

                No, we’re on the same page I think.

                ….what matters is how clearly you are communicating that intent to “whatever it is that is going to make the change on your behalf”.

                That probably could have been phrased better. Yes, but for ‘the unconscious’ you need to overcome doubt etc; this isn’t an issue if you are using a specific intermediary (software, etc).

            • George says:

              A final thought on this, then. So what’s interesting is, how the ethereal software acts, particularly when it is apparently retroactive. Because lots of results which come from what we might call the “general” approach above do imply that sort of thing.

              When you explain things as just being ‘the universe’ then the how doesn’t matter; you are just changing the ‘pattern of reality’. However, when you are dealing with the idea of a ‘real object’ – albeit a “mental object” (real but not physical) that affects “physical objects” – these things are more complicated to describe. You are talking about something that actually goes to a location and does something to it physically.

              That’s probably quite challenging (although interesting). It’s hard to see how some things can come about that way, unless software actually goes to a previous time and arranges that, say, someone now picks up your lost keys from the sidewalk and then happens to bump into you, etc. Do they put thoughts in people’s heads? Is the past being altered, or is the present just kind of amorphous and flexible, with memories just falling into line when examined?

              Of course, we could “ask” I guess!

              • You actually just stated one of the core tenets of my approach to magick:

                When we say things like, “I sent that thought to the universe,” it feels like we have an answer. Everything feels natural, and we don’t have questions.

                If we instead say, “I packaged up my thoughts and sent them to this ethereal software, which monitors and influences the physical world,” we realize we have a ton of questions.

                Here’s the punchline: Questions are good. They mean we’re starting to think through how a thing happens, and finding parts we don’t understand.

                Until we understand that thing so well that we can take it apart and put it back together, we should have questions. And any answer that doesn’t suggest questions is a curiosity-stopper, and gets in the way of exploration.

                • George says:

                  Questions are good.

                  Yes indeed. This is a tricky area though, because how do we find out these things? They are not actually observable, in the scientific method sense. We can certainly experience our muscles/communicate with software, but after that it’s mysterious.

                  For instance, for retroactive magick, well – we’re always in the present, so we can’t access the point of action.

                  Assuming that we care (because it works) – the reason to care is because we could choose our requests more carefully and get better results – how can we discover the post-communication mechanisms?

                  • It is tricky.

                    Science involves lots of things that aren’t directly observable. Economics, sociology, even a lot of modern physics and chemistry are based on things we can’t directly observe. It’s a matter of observing what we can, then figuring out what we can based on it.

                    Part of the answer is to use our insight to build techniques that let us observe more. Sensory connections are a good example. So is the detailed communication I was talking about earlier, which lets me communicate with the manifesting software to get error messages.

                    Science is hard. It’s tricky. It’s not a straight line. The only answer is to embrace that, and enjoy the exploration.

                    • George says:

                      True – observations are explained in terms of entities or structures that are not necessarily observable themselves. They are inferred as being consistent.

                      Until there is a device that lets us observe or detect “mental objects” we are always going to be a bit limited. Observing, say, a brain pattern followed by a change in patient physiology is one approach, but it’s far more challenging for most of what we would call useful magick (especially “life event” stuff).

                      But still, that’s the exciting part: if things like ethereal software are truly independent, rather than actually “bits of mind” (and even then), then one day perhaps a communication route that crosses the mental/physical barrier might be reached. (After all, we do it all the time.)

                      (By mental object I mean things that are not made of physical components. So your software, spirits, all that.)

                    • George says:

                      Of course, it might turn out that the only reliable detectors of and communicators with “mental objects” are, in fact, human minds… and it will therefore be forever subjective…

      • Synchronicity says:

        So, a manifesting software operates in a top-down fashion, calling and coordinating more specialized softwares…
        Does this mean that it can’t *directly* manipulate matter or communicate with minds?

        If so, maybe we need to deal also with all the particular sub-softwares involved, either input/process/output, to better understand how the “manifesting supervisor” is using them.

        • George says:

          Which starts to sound complicated. Question: why are spirits so helpful?

          • Synchronicity says:

            We have to deal with complexity only during the development and the debugging phases.
            When all works fine, we can enjoy the ease of utilization, forgetting what there is under the hood.

            • That could be interesting to explore: When manifesting software decides to cause a particular change, how does it do that? And how does it decide to cause that change? Lots of good stuff there.

              Indeed, it is complicated. Predicting the future and altering the physical world aren’t simple things. But, as Synchronicity says, it’s only complicated during the development and debugging phases. Same as most engineering projects.

              • George says:

                Engineering projects: good comparison.

                I do think the “how does software cause manifesting to occur” is essential. In fact, without knowing that it’s not possible to know whether the level of complication is excessive or not – or indeed whether the approach is the best, most efficient possible.

                For instance, is it possible to create our own “mental objects” that do the manifesting more efficiently that cobbled-together sequences pre-existing software? Is this really the best way? We can’t know yet.

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