Why Does Manifesting Fail? And 2 More Reader Questions

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Sharon, a new reader, experienced psychic, and curious scientist, asks some excellent questions. I’ll put her text in italics, mine in normal.

Hello Mike :-)

I came to your blog to help me link my magik with science. I am a natural psychic (still developing) who is looking to find the reason why I just “know” things. I am also uncomfortable with the pagan community telling us to do things (e.g. use a white candle or x oil when looking to purify x) and not saying what difference these correspondences make.

Welcome! A phrase I like is, “I simply refuse to believe there’s a special case in the laws of physics for a human mouth forming specific words.” Same with candles, runes, etc: There has to be some deeper mechanism at work.

A common answer is that those things are symbols, and communicate intent to the unconscious mind. My next question is, “What happens next? How does the unconscious act on that intent?” Part of why I write is to get more people asking those questions.

My questions that I have answered:
(Please feel free to question/debunk/comment on these)
1. How does magik I do at home affect events that will happen outside of my house?

Like most areas of science, there are many levels of answers. Richard Feynman has a wonderful talk on this, explaining why a person slipped. You might say, “Because there was ice on the ground,” or you might go deeper and explain why ice is slippery, or even how friction and gravity work. All those answers are true, and different levels are better for different problems. The job of science is generally to find deeper and deeper answers, while the job of engineering is to select the right level to solve a specific problem. Anyway, go watch or read Feynman’s explanation, it’s excellent.

I’d say this question is similar. Magick affects events outside your house because you got your intent into your unconscious. Also, because your unconscious contacted external forces that know how to create luck. Also, because those external forces somehow influenced your decisions (or occasionally the decisions of others), and somehow knew which way to nudge those decisions to create that outcome.

Most of my work focuses on going deeper down that causal chain: How do those external forces nudge decisions? How do they know which direction to nudge? How can we improve them?

But as I write this, it occurs to me that there are also engineering problems: How can we become more aware of those nudges, and listen to them more? How should we phrase an intent to produce the desired outcome? These don’t necessarily need the deeper exploration of how that external force functions. And for beginners, learning to use these forces probably matters more than a deeper exploration of why they work.

Well, that wasn’t really your question, but I hope you found it interesting.

2. Why do some spells not work? (Your intent vs about 12 other people looking for a parking spot for example, your intent is outnumbered.)

I think this is a plausible scenario, but since so few people use magick, this is probably a rare cause of failures.

In my own work, as I’ve gotten better at communicating with ethereal software (and in particular at receiving messages back), I now get error messages. So if I ask for an event (“find a parking space on this block”) but there’s no path to that event (all the spaces are already taken), the software tells me it’s not possible. In general, I take this as a guide to broaden my request (“cause me to drive such that I find a parking spot,” which focuses on influencing my decisions rather than on forcing the world to be a certain way).

3. Why do I just “know” things? (The ethereal software tells me)
4. How do herbs, crystals, and tools help me to get my desired effects? (They emit different frequencies e.g. when you hold a magnet to a crystal it makes a different sound. Every herb, crystal, and colour has different atomic structures and properties that enable them to work for certain spells e.g rose quartz for a beauty spell).

When I see answers like this, I reflexively ask, “But how?” Not to put the person on the spot (I try to avoid saying it out loud except with friends). But whenever I get an answer, I try to imagine all the moving parts in my head, see how they fit together, and I notice that I don’t actually have enough information to make things fit.

Herbs and crystals emit different frequencies — are we talking about sound waves? Light? Magickal energy? (Note: I use the term energy signature rather than frequency, but they’re synonyms.)

Each herb and crystal has a different atomic structure — true, but also true of everything. It sounds sciency, but hasn’t told us anything. Why is ice slippery? Because of its atomic structure. Great, but what about the structure?

I’m not saying these to put you on the spot. I’m saying them because that’s where my mind immediately goes, and since you love science too, part of your mind probably wants to go there too. So consider this a friendly nudge.

My answers:

Herbs contain medically-active chemicals. Aspirin is found in willow bark, for example. This seems like a good explanation for everything I’ve seen done with herbs.

If you asked me about crystals a few years ago, I would have said they were just symbolic, like using a white candle. But a few years ago, readers asked about it, and I tested it.

Crystals seem to absorb energy, then emit that energy in a particular signature. So there’s one signature for quartz, and whatever energy you send into the quartz, it absorbs then re-emits that energy in the “quartz signature.” Interesting side-note: This is also how color works, with objects absorbing light then emitting photons only in specific frequencies. Maybe “frequency” would be a better term than “signature”…

What’s the significance of changing your energy to “quartz signature” energy? Well, the sensation of energy has more to do with the signature than the amount. Your body has a signature, and energy that’s similar to your body’s signature only produces a small sensation, while energy that’s dissimilar produces a large sensation. So, you send energy into the quartz, it comes out in a signature matching the quartz (and not matching your body), and that energy feels much stronger because of the more dissimilar signature.

This, by the way, is one of my favorite things about Direct Magick: I routinely test something, and find that it doesn’t work the way I expected. If that didn’t happen, well what’s the point of exploring? (Other systems do this too, by the way.)

That, by the way, is also the essence of science: Run the experiment, let nature tell you about the world. It means you can connect every finding, every belief, to something you can experience for yourself in the world. That’s what I love about science: The exploration and connection to the world. And everything in the modern world, from medicine to sky scrapers to cell phones, rests on the power of asking nature how the world works, then listening to the answer.

That’s about half of Sharon’s email. I’ll do the second half coming up.

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6 Responses to “Why Does Manifesting Fail? And 2 More Reader Questions”

  1. Synchronicity says:

    > if I ask for an event (“find a parking space on this block”)
    > but there’s no path to that event (all the spaces are already
    > taken), the software tells me it’s not possible.

    What about retrocausality?

    Do you think it’s physically impossible or it’s possible but some ethereal softwares don’t know how to affect the past?

      • Synchronicity says:

        Thank you!

        My question should have been more broad. I was wondering if you rule out the possibility of a “manipulate-reality-to-create-X” type of manifesting vs. the “find-the-optimal-path-to-X-if-it-exists” type, that you’ve described.

        Are we limited to just “make the best lemonade with the lemons we have” or is there a plausible way to transmute them in “oranges”?

        • Interesting question. A few thoughts:

          To my mind, manifesting is about influencing events. So directly manipulating the physical world would be something different. But that has more to do with labels than with what’s possible.

          Healing seems to fall into the “change the physical world” category. It pretty clearly does not work by creating lucky coincidences. Instead, it seems to work by increasing or decreasing cellular processes, though we would need collaboration with biologists to confirm that hypothesis.

          Remember, all changes happen over time. Even something that looks instant to humans, like flipping a light switch and the light turns on, would be described by physical processes of electrical potential, photons moving, etc.

          Which of those processes can we manipulate, and in which ways? I have no idea, but I would be very surprised if we had reached the limit already. How can we someday alter the world, when we explore these phenomena in collaboration with physicists, chemists, and other scientists? That’s something I would very much like to do.

  2. Harry says:

    Interesting how you use explanations such as ‘frequencies’, as opposed to ‘magical properties’. I strongly agree with you.
    Say, you wanted to use a herb to get the magickal affect of getting out of a bad situation. Studying books, you could find a herb for this effect, based on others observing the particular vibrations of the matter. But I believe you could also use, using your example, ice. Ice is slippery, use it to slip out of a situation. It physically emits and vibrates ‘slipperyness’, so you can use these vibrations in a magical context. If you agree?

    To your parking space metaphor, you are correct, the chance of another of the 12 people using magick is slim…but some people can emit magick naturally. Successful thinkers etc…but who would get the parking space, a magick user, or a someone with naturally successful thought vibrations?

    • Hi Harry, if we’re focused on getting intent into the unconscious mind, then metaphors like “I want to slip out of this situation like ice slips out of my grasp” can be helpful. It can be incorporated into a ritual or visualization.

      In most of my work, I’m interested in what happens *after* the intent has reached the unconscious. What do those parts of the mind do then? How do they use connections, energy, and other ethereal structures to cause change? And by understanding that process, how can we improve it? One way to improve it, for example, might be making it function better than people who naturally do a little bit of manifesting.

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