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This post is about how I think about magick, and how I find holes in my knowledge worth exploring.
I’ve always been puzzled by sigils. How can looking at lines on a computer screen do anything?
It seems there’s an ethereal software that notices when people look at sigils. […] [I] registered my own sigil and software with it.
My point is that once you tell your “software” to synchronize itself with the sigil it will continue to resonate with it and therefore for any subsequent use there’s no explicit lookup step. When you hold the sigil in your mind, the similarity link is formed by the neural firing pattern, which in turn is governed by the sigil’s exact shape. […] That’s just the way the human brain works.
(Our discussion has other interesting ideas, on both sides, that I’m not citing here. Worth reading.)
Whenever I get an explanation, I try to imagine all the pieces, and step through how it works. Here’s what happens when I do that with Ananael’s model:
- I tell my software to synchronize with the sigil. Great — not exactly what I did, but close enough, and what chaos magicians do with egregores all the time. (Note: Ergegore and ethereal software probably refer to the same external forces, using different metaphors and explanations.)
- Not sure what “resonates” means, but let’s say that, if a person asks the software, “Is this your sigil,” it will answer “yes.”
- Then I post the sigil online. It becomes an image file, then a bunch of electronic impulses, then some light on a computer screen. And you look at it, which makes your nerves fire in a way that’s “governed by the sigil’s shape.” Yup, that all sounds like standard technology / biology.
- But then what happens? How does nerve firing create a connection to the software? Remember, the software doesn’t understand the image compression and electronic impulses, doesn’t follow them anywhere. What talks to what, where does that information go?
In computer programming, there’s a concept of bad code smell. That’s when a piece of code just feels wrong. It doesn’t necessarily make your program crash, and it’s often nothing you can prove is an error. Occasionally there’s even a good reason to do something that smells bad. But usually, something that smells bad is bad, and it’s just that you haven’t found the error yet. It’s more art than science, but after coding for a few years (or decades), you get a sense of it.
That model has a bad smell. Specifically, it smells like “free complexity,” that is, imagining that a step is simple when it’s actually complex. It’s easy to read “the similarity link is formed by the neural firing pattern,” nod your head, and get swept away by the long words. And it’s easy to imagine a sentient homunculus floating out of a person’s mind, walking over to the ethereal software that we all know goes with the sigil, and making that connection. It’s easy to ignore that the homunculus wouldn’t know which software it wants, or not to think about searching through those 1000s of softwares, or to ignore how darn complex it would be to create something that can even do that searching. After all, it’s natural for humans to imagine that everything has a human mind inside it. It’s easy to ignore all that complexity, and never realize that this step doesn’t “just happen.”
I never expected these sigil-based connections to work in the first place. I always assumed sigils were like CD labels: The connection went to the object the sigil was drawn on, like how the data is on the reflective side of the CD. The sigil / CD label is just for convenience, so you know what force / data you’ll get. Slapping a label on a blank CD doesn’t suddenly fill it with music, and making a symbol on a computer screen shouldn’t suddenly connect it to a force. I assumed that everyone using sigils for magick were just using the connections to the physical objects, or they were already connected to the software and the sigil just told their unconscious to engage that connection. I figured the people saying sigils actually did magick were just mistaken.
I was wrong, of course. But I wonder, if I had learned magick from books rather than my own explorations, and if those books had explained these “similarity links” as simple and natural and not deserving of any special attention, would I ever have realized that step was really complex?
I’ll stop there. Ananael (or anyone else), if you want to continue the discussion of similarity links, please feel free. And if you pick it up on your blog, please leave a comment here with a link to your post. Thanks!If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.