My Take on the 4 Standard Models of Magick

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This post is about the “Four Standard Models of Magick,” and how they relate to direct magick. I used to think of those models as attempts to describe an underlying mechanism of magick, and found them rather incomplete. But lately, I’ve come to think of them as methods of communicating with your unconscious, which seems useful. We’ll get into all that soon.

You’ve probably heard of the four standard models before: Spirit, energy, psychological and information. You can use any of those models and get decent results, and the idea is to categorize the range of ways people explain magick. They’re popular with the chaos magick crowd — temporarily believe this or that model to make your magick work.

When I think of them as attempts to explain the underlying mechanism of magick, they felt rather incomplete. Sure, I use spirits and energy and my mind and information, but (1) you need all of them to really describe the inner-workings of magick, and (2) none of the models seem to really grapple with magick’s complexity. (Details below.) So I familiarized myself with them to be literate, then ignored them.

But recently, readers have been asking me which model I subscribe to, and if my energy matches the standard model’s energy, and if ethereal muscles map to the psychological model, and so on. (Short answers: “None of them, no, and no.”)

Developing longer answers to those questions made me realize there’s a fundamental difference between my model of direct magick and the four standard models of magick. They’re trying to do different things, and even the word “model” seems to mean something different. But I’m not sure how to explain that. So, that’s what this post is about.

(Not familiar with the 4 models? This post (from chaos matrix) explains them. Or scroll down this page for my explanation.)

What Makes Models Good?

Here’s what I mean by “model”:

  • There is some actual mechanism occurring in the external world. (Probably just one, but it could be several.)
  • A model should describe that mechanism. The more of that mechanism it describes, the better. And it has to offer enough detail that you can imagine how each part works and predict what will happen if you try something new — simply saying “my magick goes out and does it” is correct, but not useful.
  • We determine how closely a model matches the actual mechanism by seeing if it accurately predicts new, non-obvious results. That’s key: Any story can “predict” things we already knew, but if a model really matches the underlying mechanism, it should give you new insights to predict new results you haven’t seen before. For me, those predictions are usually new, effective techniques I wouldn’t have found without the model.

That’s more or less the scientific worldview. It’s what I strive for in my models. But I’m realizing, it’s not really the goal of the standard models of magick.

I can’t just say that, though. It wasn’t obvious to me until I thought through the shortcomings of the four standard models as scientific models, and thought about them in relation to direct magick, which is my best attempt at building a scientific model of magick’s underlying mechanisms. So, let’s start there: Taking the four standard models literally, as attempted explanations of the underlying mechanism of magick, before we discuss what they really are.

The 4 Models Explained with Direct Magick

I’m going to explain each of the four standard models — spirit, energy, psychological, and information — in terms of Direct Magick. Yes, I’m assuming my model is accurate because, well, my blog, my rules. This will help everyone get on the same page, whether you know the four standard models (but not direct magick), or you know direct magick (but not the four models).

Again, I don’t actually use these four models, so I’m mostly drawing from this post. Sorry if I get something wrong.

The Spirit Model

Quick summary: Spirits are awesome. They can do powerful magick. So ask them for what you want, and let them handle the details.

In Direct Magick: Yes, I often ask spirits for assistance. I’d count ethereal software as a spirit in this discussion, too. So that’s a large portion of what I do.

But… Imagine this conversation:

Jane: I’m a great cook.

Bob: Awesome. I love pizza. Can you cook pizza?

Jane: Sure, I make a great pizza.

Bob: Tell me about your recipe.

Jane: My recipe is simple: I pick up the phone, call Luigi’s, and ask for whatever I want. Like I said, I’m a great cook.

Every time someone says they use the spirit model, I want to ask, “Aren’t you curious about how it actually works?” Also, what if the spirit’s technique isn’t optimal? What if it isn’t even effective? And what if those building blocks could also build a new solution to some unsolved problem? Unless you dig into how the spirit implements your request, you’ll never know.

The Energy Model

Quick summary: Everything has magickal energy in it. Change that energy to change the world. Often, you’ll build energy, tell it your intent, and hope the ball of energy can make that intent happen (I think).

In Direct Magick: I use energy, too. It’s part of energy healing, and with part of communication — I collect the signatures that my mind enters as I think my message, and while those signatures aren’t exactly energy, the concept is reasonably close.

But energy — the thing that makes you feel tingles — is simple. Dumb, even. You can build energy in a particular signature, and use it to shift the signature of other magickal stuff, but that’s about it. You can’t tell it, “Cause me to find a good job.” You send messages like that to ethereal software, which you could think of as a spirit, but most definitely isn’t energy.

And for energy healing, you have to know the right signature to use — just knowing your goal won’t work, unless your ethereal software already knows how to implement that goal. And, again, we’re now involving ethereal software, which the energy model doesn’t have.

It seems to me that the energy model is describing what the mage should think about to send their intent to their ethereal muscles / software, rather than describing how the ethereal muscles / software actually do the magick. We’ll come back to that idea later.

The Psychological Model

Quick summary: Your unconscious knows how to do magick. So ask for what you want, and let it handle the details.

In Direct Magick: When most people start magick, their ethereal muscles are unconscious. Since your main goal as a beginning mage is to get your intent to your ethereal muscles, it makes sense to work on getting your intent to your unconscious mind.

But why stop there? Like the spirit model, you’re ordering your magick from something you don’t understand. Don’t you want to know what your unconscious does so you can debug your magick and build on it?

That’s why, fairly early in direct magick training, we make your ethereal muscles conscious. Then you can see how they work and start understanding what happens after you send them your intent.

Also, I make a distinction between ethereal muscles and my ordinary unconscious mind. It’s useful for distinguishing ordinary intuitions from psychic intuitions, for example, and also for learning techniques to awaken ethereal muscles. Calling everything “unconscious” seems to make that distinction harder.

The Information model

Quick summary: To change X — an infection, lottery balls, your job search — send your goals (the information) to that thing, or simply out into the universe.

(The article I linked to wasn’t great on this model. I found this post helpful.)

In Direct Magick: I send requests to ethereal software all the time. Information matters.

But like the spirit model, this reduces magick to asking for what you want. Aren’t we interested in the thing that receives those requests? How does it act on them? What algorithms does it use, and how can they be improved?

Also, there are better ways to transmit information to ethereal software, but that requires working with the energy of your brain — getting down into how ethereal muscles / software store and transmit information, in the same way that a computer engineer digs into how computers store and transmit information to build a new, better internet protocol. I can’t see how to do this if your fundamental unit of magick is “information.”

(I’ve also heard some folks suggest that you’re telling the infected cells themselves to get better. I don’t buy that — cells communicate using chemical messengers, not words and ideas. That’s why I send instructions to ethereal software, which does communicate in ideas, and is programmed to turn those ideas into specific changes in the world.)

What the 4 Models Really Do

For years, that’s where my thinking began and ended on these models: They’re incomplete over-simplifications. They give the feel that you’ve answered, “How does magick work?” without actually addressing the underlying mechanics — that is, they’re curiosity-stoppers, stories that let you calm your curiosity without really answering the question. And I like my curiosity, so I didn’t spend much time on those models.

But preparing for this post, I realized: These four models aren’t trying to explain the underlying mechanism. They aren’t trying to be scientific models. That’s not their goal.

These models give you common, reliable ways to communicate your intent to your unconscious, things you can imagine and focus on to achieve magick. Spirits, energy, just going into trance and assigning meaning to a symbol, or just focusing on the information — they’re not trying to explain how magick works, they’re just trying to give you a procedure for doing magick. They’re an operator’s manual, not an engineer’s handbook.

I don’t know if that’s how practitioners who use those models view them, but I suspect it may be, because of the “meta-model,” which basically says, “Feel free to use any of these models any time. You don’t have to commit to one.” That sentiment seems odd if you believe the model actually describes how magick works, but it makes a lot of sense if you know you’re just describing standard procedures for doing magick — of course you should feel free to pick any standard procedure you like, then pick a different one tomorrow.

Which makes me think, I should build a standard procedure for direct magick. Something simplified, focused on ease of use rather than accuracy, to give beginners something to focus on to get their magick working. It would quickly explain how to do direct magick, without going into details, and be accurate enough that it won’t confuse you when we go into the underlying mechanisms later.

And this is where you come in, dear readers. Those of you who use the standard models, is this roughly your understanding? Does my explanation resonate? And for everyone, would a simplified direct magick procedure be useful?

Thanks for the feedback!

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4 Responses to “My Take on the 4 Standard Models of Magick”

  1. John W. A. says:

    Well, I’ve written about ‘Models of Magick’ in my own blog, several times, with a small series of posts about it in fact.

    I like your approach; focusing on how to ‘do’ Direct Magick, rather than understanding what’s going on behind the scenes (at least for now). Because really, you can assemble a computer or know how to design a motherboard, but that doesn’t help you actually ‘use’ the computer for anything. And why understand how a computer works, if you can’t use it to do anything?

    Because, although I like the idea and descriptions behind Direct Magick, I can’t wrap my head around what makes it different from any other ‘Model of Magick’. Although the idea of “directly using magick to interact with the physical world to perform specific, intended change” does seem rather enticing… the problem I have is how a mage would really know he is actually physically changing biological cells (for healing), physically changing matter, etc.

    Let’s say magick is like a computer, that could be “Direct Magick”, or any ‘Model of Magick’. A mage (which would be the computer user in this example) uses that box, and something happens. How does a mage reverse engineer what happens within the box to understand what’s going on inside the box to actually ‘do’ the change it does?

    But, how does any mage know that he is actually changing the physical world directly – rather than using his ‘Model of Magick’ to interpret what’s going on. How can he know how magick actually does any physical change? From a scientific perspective, what’s the empirical test we need to do in order to have the physical, scientific proof as the counterpart for what magick we’re doing?

    The OS of a computer doesn’t explain to the user how the computer actually runs any application. The user doesn’t see the binary code running in the CPU. The user does not understand how his Graphics Card driver helps run his game. Likewise, how does ‘Direct Magick’ really explain how magick changes the physical world, and what scientific proof can a mage have to understand what’s going on behind the scene?

    Is ‘Direct Magick’ simply “direct” because it connects sensory input with magickal perceptions (ethereal muscles) ? Or does it explain how magick affects the physical? Where is the “direct” in ‘Direct Magick’ – physical interaction or sensory input? Where is the scientific proof for ‘Direct Magick’, or what tests could be done to prove how it actually ‘does’ magick behind the scenes? I know these questions are very difficult, and mages have been tackling them for several decades (if not longer) – and they are quite the challenge. But answering these questions is important, I think.

    Good luck finding these answers. Cheers! (Best post in months, seriously.)

    • Initially, direct magick got its name because we did magick without using ethereal software. Just ethereal muscles and an understanding of the underlying mechanics. That’s still how I do most healing, shielding, sensory connections, and mental effects like consciousness integration. And when I do use ethereal software, I handle the communication myself, rather than letting the ethereal software handle it.

      The point of my work is still to understand the underlying mechanics. See, if you just want to use a computer to write a word doc, you don’t need to know how it works. But what if it stops working? What if you want to design a better computer? Even if you just want to program computers, it’s good to know how they work. And that’s a disconnect, I think: Between people who just want to use magick, and people (like me) who want to build magick into something better.

      The empirical test, of course, is if the model suggests non-obvious techniques that do, in fact, work better than other known techniques. That’s how we know the model gave us an accurate insight into the world.

      • John W. A. says:

        Just because you aren’t using Ethereal Software doesn’t mean it’s direct magick. What can you do to prove that instead of using an Ethereal Software “BlahSpell5000” (just a random name), you’re not using an Ethereal Software called an “Ethereal Muscle” ? What is the difference?

        From what I’ve read so far, it just seems like it’s an “Ethereal Muscle” is just an “Ethereal Software” which requires a lot more manual control, tweaking and configurations.

        I then used the following logic: if I could not understand how magick interacts with the physical world directly, then why not understand how magick is done from within the mind of the mage? My plan wasn’t to understand how magick happens beyond the mage, but how the mage can ‘do’ better magick.

        Here’s a simple idea: Mage’s Conscious Mind => ‘Interface’ (Model of Magick) => Subconscious Mind => Physical Change

        My plan isn’t to focus on the Subconscious Mind to Physical Change process (which I’ve coined the ITA-Gap, or Interface-to-Action Gap), but rather how the Mage’s Conscious Mind, his ‘Interface’ (Model of Magick), and how his Subconscious Mind interact best. I use the Psychological Model to help me understand how those first three parts work together, and that helps me create better techniques and develop better understanding of how to ‘do’ better magick.

        The ITA-Gap is – to my understanding – not important in being a better mage. The first three steps are the most important steps because that’s where a mage can make a difference, and actually hone his skills. The “magick scientist” focuses on what’s beyond the ITA-Gap – and the only way to obtain proof is with real scientific equipment and measuring devices – a role best suited for those with experience in physics, chemistry, and so forth.

        I hope this helps. It’s been sort of a driving force in my revitalized studies of magick. Anyways, good luck – cheers!

        • A few items to reply to:

          -On ethereal muscles vs ethereal software: I think that’s just something you have to experience yourself. They feel different, operate differently, and are just obviously different once you get your hands on them. But asking me for proof won’t get you that experience, it’s something you have to do for yourself. There’s a guide linked from my front page, if you want to try.

          -It sounds like we might be solving different problems here. You seem to focus on getting your intent into your unconscious mind. That’s a common thing to focus on for mages, but it’s not particularly interesting to me. My solution is just to make my ethereal muscles conscious, which eliminates that step. Instead, I focus on what the ethereal muscles actually do to cause change in the world. It’s fine if you want to focus on your own thing — lord knows I do — but I get the feeling you find some of my writing frustrating, and this may be why.

          -Keep in mind, there’s a great deal of distance between understanding the steps ethereal muscles take as they do magick, and understanding how energy interacts with atoms. There’s a lot of ground to cover before we’d even be ready to tackle that question, so try not to get fixated on the complexities of connecting magick to atoms — let’s first tackle the problems of connecting a high-level intent to a set of changes in energy, connections, and other ethereal structures that cause the desired result. (See the write-up on hives under my Free Books for an example.)

          -If we leave the hard problems to professional physicists, I suspect those hard problems will never get solved. Just remember: There was a time when there were no physicists, just smart people trying to understand the world. They leaned into the problem long enough that they created a field of science. We can do the same.

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