Recognizing Ethereal Software

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This is an excerpt from my article in the upcoming anthology.

We talk a lot about using ethereal software, but I haven’t done much to help you find it. I want to fix that today.

Step 1: Quiet Your Energy

Start by quieting your energy. This doesn’t mean reduce the total amount of energy in your body, it just means to steady it, so the amount isn’t increasing or decreasing, and so the signature isn’t shifting. Think of it like a quiet ocean: No waves, but still plenty of water. Once your energy is quiet, you’ll be able to listen for connections more easily.

To quiet your energy, do your normal energy meditation. You know, the first one you learned in that beginner workshop years back. That will connect you to your energy. Then, instead of focusing on building energy, just focus on holding it steady, at a comfortable level. If you visualize the energy as a colored glow, just imagine it holding steady (not pulsating or moving). Do whatever feels natural within your visualization.

Practice this a few times until it’s easy. Then keep this visualization in the back of your mind during the rest of the exercises, so you keep your energy steady and quiet the whole time.

Step 2: Do Some Magick (Any Magick)

With your energy quieted, do whatever you normally do for your magick practice. This will make your ethereal software connect to you. The magick could be a ritual, or psychically asking for information, or energy healing, or something else. But do it with quieted energy. The results probably won’t be as effective as if you focused 100% on the magick, but with quiet energy, you’ll be able to feel the ethereal software connect to you more easily.

Step 3: Listen to the Ethereal Software

Feel the thoughts your ethereal software sends you, like psychic intuitions or visions. They won’t feel quite like normal thoughts. That’s because those messages are in the software’s signature, and your normal thoughts are in your signature.

You’ll also need to feel where the software connects. Pay particular attention to the beginning and ending of your magick work. That’s when the ethereal software connects and disconnects, which is the best time to spot it. You know how you don’t notice the hum of your fridge when it’s on, but the sound is obvious when it starts or stops? Same deal.

How do those connections feel? Basically like energy. It’s the same tingly feeling for most people, though just like energy, some people will feel it as a mild pressure, or a mild tug, or something else. What’s really happening, with both energy and connections, is you’re feeling the signature of the energy / connection interacting with your signature. That’s why there’s no one feeling for these things: Each energy has a slightly different signature, and each person has a different signature, and each interaction feels different. But if you know how energy feels to you, the ethereal software’s connection will feel like that, but milder, and in your head.

Thanks to everyone who replied when I asked you how connections feel. You were a huge help in writing this section.


If you give it a good try, and then a second good try, and still can’t feel it, here are some other methods:

If you work with spirits, ask them to make an obvious connection to you, so you can feel it. Intentionally obvious connections are easier to spot than normal connections. Most spirits know how to do this, as do some mages.

Still can’t feel it? Try a new style of magick. Each style has its own signature, so each style’s connections feel different. It may just be that you’re so used to the forces you normally work with that you don’t notice them. When you do this, use an established style like Reiki or Enochian, not a newly-invented ritual, since newly-invented rituals usually won’t have their own ethereal software.

Still can’t feel it? Leave a comment and I’ll help.

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13 Responses to “Recognizing Ethereal Software”

  1. Ananael Qaa says:

    What I’m still waiting to hear in this discussion is a better explanation of your distinction between “software” and “spirits.” If it’s a matter of how intelligent and coherent an entity happens to be, maybe we’ve just been talking past each other using different definitions. Whatever model of the universe you use, spirits of different classes will be more or less intelligent and have more or less volition. So I suppose one could say the lowest-level and therefore least intelligent spirits in the hierarchy are “software” because they don’t think for themselves very much – though they occasionally do, so you can’t always just treat them like machines and rule it out.

    In my experience the differences between entities at the different levels of manifestation is more quantitative than qualitative. There’s a smooth progress as you work up and down the spiritual hierarchies. So if you’re going to convince me that entities more intelligent than X are “spirits” and less intelligent than X are “software,” I really need to have a better idea of why you feel the need to draw the line at that particular point. Similarly, if that’s not what you mean and you really are talking about two completely separate and distinct levels, what I would have to hear at this point is what your “software” does that could not possibly be explained by the activity of said lower-level entities.

  2. Ona says:

    I tweeted a joke from the airport about hoping I didn’t get seated next to someone who farts all night on the long flight. You tweeted back about looking at the seating chart and asking which seat I should choose, and listening for the right answer (I can’t find the tweet to recall your exact words).

    I didn’t get that reply til after I had landed, but when I read it I thought “but of course, that’s how every decision all day long is made!” For me, that could be called intuition, or the guidance of spirit guides or the big Deity himself, or even just being in synch with the unfolding of life, the universe and everything.

    Whatever words one prefers, I think your instructions are along the right lines. For people who have no connection to their intuition, the key practice is to learn to be silent and listen. Being silent is often most easily trained by some kind of regular calming meditation practice. That attentive, quiet listening is like an invitation that allows the connection to become more and more apparent (it’s always been there, just covered up by mental chatter and ego defenses). It takes time to learn to distinguish the ego chatter from the deeper intuition. In time the difference often feels like a calm certainty, a knowing that comes from the heart. No time is needed to decide things, because the decision is intuitively clear immediately. This can start to seem like good luck, a sort of psychic anticipation of what to do next, endless coincidences, or a feeling that one is being led by wisdom.

    I really learned this most and first through spirit work, and that “energy tug” was known as characteristic of spirit presence. I don’t have a big stake in caring whether people believe in spirit or not, or prefer to use a different terminology. I just think it’s interesting to see you are in some ways suggesting a similar basic way of connecting to that guidance, even if the vocabulary and understanding of it is different than mine.

    Cheers, Ona

  3. Thanks guys. What’s standing out to me is that you both know exactly the kind of connections and interactions that I’m talking about, but you interpret those differently. Does that sound about right?

    Ananael: Could you give me an example of a spirit I’d call a spirit, a spirit I’d call ethereal software, and a spirit that’s somewhere in between? That would help me understand where you’re coming from. (And by extension, where other traditional mages are coming from.)

    In practice, the difference between spirits and software is in how you interact with them. Software has standard commands, like “requesting full usage instructions,” that spirits wouldn’t respond to. (I tested it, and almost got a lecture about how my teacher is most definitely not ethereal software.) But more than that, it’s just a very different feel working with them. I don’t think I can capture that in writing, but as I write the book, I’ll try and give you some exercises so you can see what I’m talking about, and maybe we’ll wind up teaching one another — maybe there are other in-between spirits that I haven’t seen, for example.


  4. Andrew says:

    I would have said that spirits are self aware, where are etherial software isn’t.

    Even a mentally retarded person is self aware. Yet no computer, incredibly intelligent though they may be, is. Really I would have said that intelligence has nothing to do with the distinction.

    • That’s correct, but I don’t think it will help Ananael. When you interact with something, how do you know if it’s self-aware or not? It’s really tricky to spot. So, while that is an important distinction in my model, and it’s something you subtly pick up through a lot of interactions, it’s not something I would expect to be particularly compelling to someone with a different model. Ananael, could you weigh in on this?

      Also, some spirits (ones that drain energy, mostly) seem more animalistic than human. They’re not ethereal software, but I wouldn’t call them particularly self-aware, either. So I’m wondering if these are the spirits Ananael is thinking of. It’s really tricky to put the sense I have of software vs spirits into hard-and-fast rules, though, so thanks for helping.

  5. Ananael Qaa says:

    Self-aware is pretty much what I meant by “intelligent and coherent,” and I have to say that I have yet to come across anything that I work with that doesn’t have some degree of self-awareness, though some spirits do have very little.

    How do I know? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those things that’s kind of subjective, just like your sensory connections – I can interact with and converse with them, even the spirits that are more on the level of pets than humans (though what they have to say isn’t usually of very much value). Those tend to be the spirits at the “bottom” of the hierarchies. Even artificial spirits like servitors have a sort of rudimentary consciousness – and if you know what you’re doing, you can construct one that is very intelligent and has a very high degree of self-awareness.

    Here’s a question that might shed some light on this discussion. What parts of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram would you consider “software” versus “spirit” or “entity?” Or, if you prefer, pick another basic ceremonial ritual that you know better. I’m still trying to work out whether this is a terminology difference or a real disagreement, and at least to me and perhaps other ritual-types as well, such an analysis would be quite helpful.

    • That’s a great way to approach it. Really. My manifesting kept telling me to work on my book outline, and now I think I know why: That will make a great intro. (Not just LBRP, but taking a bunch of styles’ basic skills and explaining them in my terms, with a few tips based on that explanation.)

      To answer you: I’ve only done the LBRP a few times with friends. When we do it, only one thing connects to me (or any of the friends I was watching), and it is ethereal software. The calls to angels activate the ethereal software, but are not themselves contacting spirits. In fact, at first, the question didn’t make sense to me — which parts contact spirits vs software — until I went back over the ritual and remembered that there were, in fact, calls to angels.

      Edit: I’m no expert on the LBRP. If there’s a basic form where you’re supposed to only get one non-sentient force, and another form to use only with the initiated where you get a bunch of high-skill spirits, then that would explain a lot. I’ll trust the more LBRP-experienced mages among you to chime in on this one.

      Does that help? Could you tell me your understanding of my terms, and how it maps to yours?

  6. Ona says:

    If I may chime in, I’m not a ceremonial magician, but I used the LBRP extensively for a while, and still use it occasionally. How I experience it is:

    First bit (Ateh Malkuth etc) I feel is an acknowledgement and surrender to Creation and God.
    The next bit calls upon God by several of his names.
    Then I call on some angels.
    Then I verbally confirm my relationship to God and Creation in the last bit (about me flame, etc.)

    So God’s not a spirit per se. He’s not bounded. But He is the uncreated source. (I’m not in the “bearded guy sitting on a throne” camp). And the angels are “spirits” (entities) of a sort. And all of those are self-aware. At least that’s how it seems to me.

    How does (or doesn’t) that relate to your approach?

    • Ona dear, you are always more than welcome to chime in.

      I think what you’re presenting is the standard view of the LBRP. It’s helpful to have that list, so I know what to discuss in my interpretation. I’ll post that next week. (My weekends tend to get full seeing friends who work all week.)


  7. Ananael Qaa says:

    First of all, there’s not some special version of the LRP that’s used by “initiates.” It’s the same ritual (though there are lot of variations on it). As you practice it, though, the connections it makes become stronger and you may not have sensed them if you’ve only done it a few times.

    The LRP opens and closes with the Qabalistic cross, which activates the body’s energy centers corresponding to the Qabalistic scheme. Then it sets up connections with four godname-level entities (YHVH, Adonai, Eheieh, and AGLA) and four archangel-level ones (Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, and Auriel/Uriel). While it’s true that what you’re doing in the ritual is connecting with the Archangels rather than conjuring them, when you conjure them you’ll find that what you’re connecting with in the LRP is the same energy. The Archangels are also quite self-aware and I don’t see how they could possibly be mistaken for “software.” But again, most people don’t sense those connections until they’ve practiced the ritual daily for at least a couple of weeks, which it doesn’t sound like you’ve done.

    Now, I asked that question so I could ask another one. If the LRP is software, shouldn’t that suggest that even a small change to it should render it completely ineffective? Metaphorically speaking, if it’s a “system command,” then one missing letter will produce an “error,” right? Similarly, it sounds like using the pieces individually should also not be effective – like, say, a pentagram associated with one of the godnames. Am I right that this is what your model would predict?

    And yes, I’m asking this question so I can ask the next one. ;-)

    • I’m going to give a full answer next week in its own post, but a few notes for now. I see how you could get that impression from the software metaphor, especially since you program computers. But ethereal software is actually quite user-friendly. Here’s the quick version:

      -Something triggers the software to connect to the mage. This could be a single sigil or a full ritual.

      -Redundancy is our friend. As long as the mage gets a few sigils and steps right, the software will connect. (This is something I hadn’t thought about until now, and yes, it’s speculation, but not a huge leap. I’ve verified this by contacting ethereal software based on a single enochian letter.)

      -If the mage already works with a particular piece of software (meaning he knows the software’s signature), he can simply contact the software based on its signature. That’s how you can get results from non-traditional rituals.

      -Once the software is working with the mage, it will read his intent from his mind. (Assuming the mage’s mind is properly prepared for that communication. Anyone initiated should have at least a basic preparation.)

      -In an old post on psychic intuitions, I talk about asking multiple choice questions, and letting the software guide you to which option applies here. (Tarot cards are good for this, since they have several contradictory meanings, so the software can guide you to the meaning it wants to transmit.) It’s easier to figure out which premade bucket a message belongs in than it is to read the full message. This is my model for “Why bother with rituals”: The software doesn’t have to read every detail from your mind, since it can just match you to the closest ritual it knows. (Again, this is a new idea today, and is speculation.)

      -In general, ethereal software works hard to execute the command it thinks you meant. I’ve actually had problems with this, where it executed the wrong manifesting question rather than tell me it didn’t understand some of my concepts. In this way, it is fairly opposite to modern computers.

      So, those are my notes. It’ll take a few hours to shape them into something I’m happy with, but I have a full weekend and wanted to reply sooner rather than later. Does that help? Feel free to ask questions, it’ll help me know where to go with this. Thanks.

  8. Ananael Qaa says:

    That does help, and I’m looking forward to your longer explanation. Now here’s my next question. First, read this article:

    Then tell me whether you think the resulting ritual is still an LRP or if it is a new piece of ethereal software. If it’s a new piece, does it just come into existence by being practiced differently? If it’s not a new piece, how is it that so many changes to the ritual can still result in the same piece of software?

    Note that since I don’t personally practice this version of the ritual I don’t have experience working with it and am not really up on its technical particulars. I just selected it because it had the most changes of any version I could find online.

    • I don’t know the standard LBRP well enough to spot the changes, so I’ll just answer for “a substantially modified LBRP.”

      First, no, it’s not a new piece of ethereal software. Software is invoked by a ritual, but it’s made by a spirit (or skilled mage) who explicitly, consciously makes it. Think of the ritual as the desktop shortcut: It only does anything if someone has already written the software it references. (Rituals may also focus intent and do some other things internal to the mage, but we’re talking about ethereal software at the moment.)

      Here’s my guess, keeping in mind that I don’t know that much about the ritual: They used some elements of the standard LBRP, which would probably be enough to invoke the software. (Redundancy is our friend.) And, probably many mages involved in that group already know the standard LBRP, and so they already are familiar with the software, and would connect to it just by thinking about doing a magick ritual. At that point, it doesn’t matter too much what your ritual is, you’re going to send instructions to the software just based on your intent. The software will generally also connect to other people working with you, so as long as someone in the group is familiar with the ethereal software, it will quickly get connected to everyone, and after a few sessions, everyone will be connecting to the software based on thinking about its signature (the feel of the energy and connections when doing the ritual), not based on anything particular within the ritual itself. (Note: This was a lot of speculation. I’ve seen individual pieces of ethereal software do each of the things I described, but haven’t tested the particular software that gets invoked by the LBRP.)

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