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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?
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