Ritual as Social Glue

by Mike Sententia on July 23, 2014

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When I see a magick ritual, I often think, “There’s no way that the laws of physics have a special case for human lips forming those words, or human hands moving in human-recognizable shapes. That’s just not how physics works. Whatever the underlying mechanism, there has to be a faster, more precise way to trigger it.”

Usually, I think that as I’m getting bored.

But at a recent no-particular-tradition pagan ritual, it occurred to me: This ritual isn’t about altering the external world. They mean something different by the word “magick,” something closer to, “Engaging psychological phenomena to build a community.” They want to optimize for that, not for efficient manifesting results.

Going a step further, some friends use “magick” to mean “Maslow-style peak experiences.” Others mean “Anything non-medical that makes me feel better, from placebo to herbs to energy.” I like my more precise meaning, but it’s worth remembering that not everyone means the same thing by “magick.”

When I’m at rituals, I find I get less frustrated by remembering that we’re solving for different problems. Then I can learn about building community, rather than focusing on how inefficient their magick is.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon July 25, 2014 at 8:29 AM

Question here – your magick is very ‘head centered’ in some ways. Do you think there’s ever a case the engaging the body – ie actually moving it in patterns can achieve something in magick that sitting at a laptop cannot? And I mean magick in the more narrowly defined sense – affecting change in the world- rather than building social cohesion etc.

Its been demonstrated that views of the brain as some isolated phenomenon is now obsolete and what you do with your spine has as much influence on your mental faculties as anything else. Ethereal structures may well be ‘unfamiliar matter’ but we are still mediating them through our brain.
I wonder if there is not some correlation here. ‘as above so below’ and all that… maybe its not always the most effective route to sit behind a laptop and avoid doing strange ritual movements etc. I don’t know…

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Mike Sententia August 6, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Really interesting idea. Thanks! My reply: https://magickofthought.com/2014/08/ritual-magick-and-the-brain/

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