What’s a “Road Opener”?

by Mike Sententia on June 26, 2012

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Rune Soup has an interesting post on manifesting. Mostly, he talks about doing the non-magickal work, instead of relying on your magick entirely. (For example, before manifesting for a job, write a good resume.) I agree 100%.

There’s one thing that doesn’t fit for me, though. He talks about “road openers,” meaning magick that creates options which you can then pursue. For example, getting an invitation to the right party is a “road opener”: It doesn’t get you a new job itself, but it creates an opportunity for you to network and solve your own problem more effectively.

For talking about what magick does at a high level, so outsiders can understand manifesting, this sounds like a useful term. But I don’t think it’s a useful model of manifesting for talking to other mages, because I don’t see the inherent distinction between opening a road (getting you invited to the party) vs causing other events. Let me explain.

Imagine two manifestings. In one, I influence a person’s decision to cause them to invite me to a party. In the other, I influence a person’s decision to cause them to hire me. Both manifestings acted in the same way — they influenced a single decision — and so I don’t see the point in calling one a road opener and the other a “problem solver” (or whatever you want to call it).

Now imagine two road openers. The first one still influences a person’s decision to invite me to a party. But imagine this party also has tickets raffled off with powerball machines, and in the second manifesting, I influence tiny air currents in the powerball mixer to make my number come up. The magick is very different — one influenced decisions, the other influenced air currents — and so it feels odd to call them both “road openers.”

In the end, I think it comes down to what part of magick you focus on. If you view magick based on what it does for you — from a human-scale perspective, with the end goal in mind — then terms like “road opener” make sense. But if you view magick based on the steps it takes to cause those changes — the implementation, rather than the result — then those terms just feel odd. And since we need to understand magick’s implementation to grow it into a modern, reliable field of study, I want to move us toward implementation-focused terms, rather than results-focused ones.

Now, the question for me: Since most people will naturally view magick from a human-scale perspective, how do I move them to implementation-focused terms? Thoughts?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ananael Qaa June 26, 2012 at 1:02 PM

It seems like whenever you start talking about magick and probabilities you sound like a Newtonian physicist trying to explain quantum mechanics in terms of which moving part does what. Modern science has shown that reality is probabilistic, not some sort of giant Victorian clockwork where part A moves part B and so forth.

Let’s say that the following is how magick really works, just for purposes of discussion.

(A) The mind occupies the same “space” as quantum wavefunctions do prior to the wavefunction collapse.

(B) Quantum functions scale up to the macrocosmic realm (this is established by the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics).

(C) Because the mind occupies the same “space” as quantum wavefunctions, it can influence those functions.

(D) In order to create a magical effect on a target, the mind aligns itself with the target (mental posture) and transmits a second wavefunction (energy signature) with a particular signal intensity (mental muscles) that alters the probability field around the target.

(E) When the probability field around the target collapses – that is, the external situation resolves itself, whether it be to get you a job or get you some winning lottery numbers – the case in which your desire manifests becomes more likely.

There are some issues with that schema that have yet to be resolved in quantum physics regarding precisely how quantum functions scale up, but let’s say that’s the model. Where are the mechanical pieces? Since everything is being mediated within the realm of wavefunctions there aren’t any above and beyond what I’ve already proposed. Also, according to that schema every spell you could possibly cast is in effect a “road opener” to use Gordon’s terminology.

So if you identify an outcome with probability X and want to make it happen, you need to consider the increased likelihood that you can create based on your mundane actions, A, plus the increased likelihood that you can create with magical methods, M. Your spell will succeed whenever A + M >= X, otherwise it will fail. Maybe it’s the chaos mage in me talking, but I don’t think there’s much to be gained by, say, trying to figure out what sort of energy is making the balls move differently in a lotto machine – because there may not be any discernable energy there at all.

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Mike Sententia June 27, 2012 at 7:52 AM

Hi Ananael, this may be a place we simply have to agree to disagree, at least for now. I have a post half-written on magick and quantum physics and why that’s not my model that I’ll see about finishing up. But we can’t just start out by assuming a whole model of magick that I disagree with.

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Ananael Qaa June 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM

I’m aware that you disagree with that model, but my point is actually broader than I think you’re making it out to be. What I’m trying to point out is that there are a number of models out there, with that being one example, that don’t rely on any of the “moving parts” that you seem to be convinced are out there.

In particular, the idea that magick is some kind of specific energy that exerts a conventional sort of force on objects has been subject to massive levels of experimentation by paranormal researchers going all the way back to the 1930’s. The simple “energy model” is what was for the most part assumed by everyone working in the field for decades, so most of the early experiments were to try and see if there was some way to “shield” objects from psychic influences. Nothing that was tested ever made a difference in those outcomes.

Maybe you could be dealing with something goofy and hard to measure like neutrino radiation, but I would like to see some real experimental evidence before drawing that conclusion. In terms of energy work, the Chinese have identified infrasonic vibrations between 8 and 16 hertz as what Qigong masters “emit” when healing patients, so maybe there’s something there as well – though I’m not clear on how that would operate over something like a contagion or similarity link.

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Mike Sententia June 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I actually agree with you on this: I don’t think magick::energy is one of the physics energies, and I think people who conflate the two hamper their own progress and make mages look silly. (The early folks who did the testing were good, but at this point, it’s been tested, no results, so we should move on.)

What I am very interested in is understanding the mechanism. Because once we do that, we can implement new magick to solve new problems using those same mechanisms as building blocks, whether they’re quantum mechanical or influencing biological processes or something else.

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Kol Drake June 26, 2012 at 2:29 PM

The law of the instrument aka “Maslow’s Hammer” — “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” — 1966, Abraham Maslow

Mike’s background is in computers and programming… so I tend to see him exploring his theories with the mindset of an input/output flowchart. Given a problem and a set of variables, flowchart it through a chain of ‘programming nodes’ which invariably get you to the desired result. Very Newtonian — which works great for computers and programming but as Ananael Qaa notes, might not be the exact mechanisms if magic(k) and M-energy is more about quatum wavefronts. Still, as Maslow noted, if one only has a hammer as a tool, then it’s all nails.

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Mike Sententia June 27, 2012 at 8:01 AM

Hi Kol, I don’t mind you tweaking me, but you need to be able to back it up. I’ve studied quantum physics and quantum computing in university, and did a year of professional quantum computing research before I decided the field wouldn’t get anywhere interesting anytime soon. I can’t do the hard math to work Schrodinger’s equation, but I can handle bra-ket notation, follow the math behind Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and have a good grasp of the experiments. So, while I’m not a professional physicist, I’m much better versed than most laymen. How about you?

By the way, for anyone wanting to jump in on quantum physics, I recommend this series on Less Wrong:
http://lesswrong.com/lw/r5/the_quantum_physics_sequence/

It’s not going to make you into a professional physicist, but it’s a good introduction designed to make it make sense. (In contrast, most introductions are designed to make quantum physics as unintuitive and confusing as possible, to make it (or the author) seem more cool.)

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Kol Drake June 27, 2012 at 8:12 PM

No need to compare degrees of study or decades of reading up on the mind, consciousness studies, or quantum physics. One does not have to be the Buddha to understand the concept of enlightenment nor be a poet to appreciate good poetry. One can see a logic flow or train of reasoning and discern the ‘flow’ without having to be inside another’s head. You have your concept of what magick should be and how it must operate. Just saying, it might more then be ‘that’ size, weight, style of nail — it might be a pop rivet or screw… but for now, the theory is being shaped for a nail.

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