What is Ethereal Software?

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Most magick relies on external forces to drive the change in the world. I call these forces “ethereal software.” A few examples:

  • When a psychic asks a question and receives an intuition, that information came from ethereal software. Since that software handles psychic intuitions, we call it “psychic ethereal software” or just “psychic software.”
  • When you perform a ritual, something has to interpret those symbolic actions and drive the actual changes in the world. That something is ethereal software.
  • When you channel healing energy, that energy comes from ethereal software. I call it “healing software,” or if it’s for a particular style like Reiki, “Reiki ethereal software.”

Other styles of magick have noticed these forces, too. Some mages call them “natural laws,” because the actions of those forces seem fundamental to how magick works. Others draw from Jungian psychology and call the forces “egrigores” and “servitors.” Some mages anthropomorphize these forces and name them after ancient gods. All of those terms, I think, refer to the same external phenomenon: The forces you channel that make your magick happen.

Why Call it “Ethereal Software”?

Words have power. They influence how we think about problems, how we use our tools, and how we explore the world.

If I talk about “the forces behind your magick” or “the forces you channel,” that conjures up the forces from physics, like gravity or magnetism. They perform simple actions, usually attracting or repelling two objects, which is much too simple a metaphor for what ethereal software does.

Calling the forces “natural laws,” or a new-age term like “channeling energy from The Universe,” suggests they’re fixed. But as you’ll see, some of the best results come from reprogramming the forces.

Calling them egrigores and servitors invokes a lot of ideas about how they work: That the forces are collective, that more people believing in them makes them more powerful, etc. In my experience, those descriptions aren’t accurate. Though, if I had to pick an established term, egrigore seems closest to what I mean by ethereal software.

For more on The Universe vs ethereal software, see this post.

Ethereal Software vs Spirits

I also work with spirits, which, like ethereal software, are non-physical, communicate directly with your thoughts, and can help you do magick. What’s the difference?

The main difference is that spirits are sentient: Self-aware, experiencing feelings and emotions, and generally having the same sort of mind as humans. In contrast, ethereal software is only like a computer: Intelligent (responding to information in a meaningful way) but not sentient (it doesn’t have feelings or self-awareness).

Ethereal software can be programmed to project an emotion, just as a computer can be programmed to display an actor’s face or play an emotional song. But neither the ethereal software nor the computer is actually experiencing the emotion.

How do you tell the difference between spirits and ethereal software? I’m going to plagiarize myself here:

It’s tricky, because you can’t rely on your intuition. Some ethereal software, like the software behind Enochian magick, gives you a vision of an Angel to make it easier for people to grasp. Some software is run by not-particularly-powerful spirits, but projects an awe-inspiring vision and feeling to impress you. And often, what followers refer to as “Gods” are just the software’s representation for users — how its interface is designed.

Tip: Don’t try to correct people. “That’s not a God, that’s just ethereal software tricking you” won’t win you any friends.

So how can you tell whether you’re working with software or spirits? If anyone can call on it by saying a word in Hebrew or writing a symbol, it’s probably software. Would you serve anyone who says your name? I sure wouldn’t.

Another way to tell is the feeling of getting to know someone. Working with spirits is like working with people: You start off collaborating on a shared interest, see if you like one another, find other projects to work on, and eventually become friends. In contrast, using ethereal software is a transaction. You make a request, possibly let it drain a bit of energy, and you’re done. Simple as buying books online.

A third way to tell what you’re working with is availability. Like a website, ethereal software is always available, since it can respond to hundreds or thousands of requests simultaneously. But just like calling a friend, sometimes spirits can’t talk. They’ll either reply, “Let me call you back in a few minutes,” or talk to you but sound distracted. (You can tell from the emotional quality of the communication — when they’re distracted, you get words but no emotions.) Also, spirits, like people, are sometimes excited and sometimes down, while ethereal software is as consistent as a computer.


Got questions about what ethereal software is or how to tell software from spirits? Leave a comment.

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6 Responses to “What is Ethereal Software?”

  1. Ona says:

    It never occurred to me that someone might not want to work with spirits for the reasons you listed (quirky personalities, unreliability, etc.). I’ve heard of people not wanting to because they are afraid of them, or because they think believing in spirits is silly.

    Myself, I actually *like* their quirky human-like qualities as well as the traditional chanting and arm waving stuff that often goes along with spirit work. :P

    (None of the above is a criticism, btw, because I am a fan of diversity and creativity in magickal approaches. I was just intrigued to find a new reason why some people don’t care for spirit work.)

    (Relevant to my relationship to the software/computer analogies: I’m old enough to remember when no one had personal computers. And I’m not recalling kindergarten either. ;) )

    • You know, that never occurred to me, either. I’ve always viewed spirits and ethereal software as different, but never thought someone would want to avoid spirits the same way some people prefer working with computers to working with people. But now that you say it, it’s obvious.

      I like the human quality of working with spirits, too. Because you really do pick up emotions in their messages and develop friendships.

      And thanks for working with my computer metaphors, grandma ;)

  2. Ona says:

    I’m not THAT old, kiddo! :D

  3. Kol Drake says:

    This is when Ona sends an etheric software manifestation to spank Mike for being lippy to his elders.

  4. Kol Drake says:

    Looks like Donald Michael Kraig is touching on your view on ‘how magick works’ over at


    touching on the various view of what you term etherial software ‘might’ be.

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