Superman, Time Travel, and Why Science Matters

by Mike Sententia on February 8, 2016

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To do energy healing, or manifesting, or other magick, we need a visualization that engages the unconscious.

Keep that in mind: Engaging the unconscious. Because that’s a different goal than understanding how magick operates. Not a bad goal, just a different one. And confusing those two goals (engaging the unconscious vs understanding the mechanism) derails so many people, smart insightful people who could otherwise be helping us build a deeper understanding of energy healing and magick, and helping us create the better techniques that flow from that understanding.

A simple example: Chaos Magick is famous for rituals to Superman. The idea is to engage concepts of strength and justice in the mage’s unconscious, and to tap into those same virtues in a collective unconscious. When one does that ritual, it might be useful to pretend to believe that Superman is real.

“Superman will fly down and help me stand up to this bully” is a great visualization, but a terrible model for how manifesting actually works.

We’re about to discuss a not-so-obvious example. But first, I want to explain how we could figure out that Superman isn’t a good model, if we didn’t already know that.

Imagine a friend believes that magick actually works by Superman hearing your ritual and helping you out. You say, “That sounds amazing. Let’s do a ritual, I want to talk to him.” Your friend replies that Superman doesn’t stay around long enough to talk, and moves so fast you can’t even see him. “I have a high-speed camera.” Sorry, he’s too fast for even that. “I know, we’ll hang ribbons from the ceiling, and we won’t see Superman, but we’ll still see the ribbons swaying after he leaves.” Your friend thinks for a minute, then says that Superman will pause to stop each ribbon from swaying as he leaves.

For each experiment, your friend predicted the same result we’d see if Superman wasn’t real. If your friend really truly believed Superman was real, he would say, “Awesome, let’s run the experiment, I want to see those ribbons swaying too.” But deep down, he knows how the world really is, and he knows what experimental outcomes he’ll see even before doing the experiment.

(This is from Carl Sagan’s dragon in the garage.)

Now it’s time for the not-obvious example. Synchronicity asks:

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?

There’s a Chaos Magick book that talks about reverse-time manifesting, where you send out your intent and it travels to the past to arrange things for you in the near future. I think it was Phil Hine. (Anyone know the book? Leave a comment. Thanks!)

I think reverse time is like a ritual to Superman. Great visualization to engage your unconscious. Probably not how magick actually works.

(And keep in mind, Chaos Magick’s motto is, “Belief is the tool.” The goal was to temporarily believe things to get your mind to engage and do magick, not to accurately explain the underlying mechanisms of magick.)

But why? It’s easy to pretend to believe in Superman, then drop the belief after the ritual. But reverse-time isn’t obviously wrong. It’s a fun belief — who hasn’t wanted to go back in time and undo a mistake? And doesn’t quantum physics predict equally weird stuff?

I see this as an opportunity. Separating good mechanisms of magick from useful ways to engage the unconscious is an important skill. So let’s practice it.

Imagine you fully believe your magick can go into the past and change time. When I do that, I notice a mental flinch away from predictions that are obviously silly. Fight that flinch. Imagine we just made this discovery, it was a new technology, never used before. What could we do with it?

Here’s what I flinched away from. (That’s usually a sign that an idea is worth exploring):

Ananael has talked about manifesting to influence lottery results. If reverse-time manifesting worked — if we could somehow change the past — then he should be able to change last week’s lottery results.

And immediately, I start making excuses. “Ananael already knows the lottery numbers. Maybe this only works if he hasn’t seen them yet.”

OK, so I’ll look at the lottery numbers but not show them to him, then let him do the ritual…

I could come up with some excuse, but I’ve spent years training my mind not to create those excuses, and I actually don’t want to develop that excuse-making skill.

But try it. Ask, “What would the world look like, if the world actually worked that way?” And see how much you immediately have to explain away.

That’s how we know reverse-time is a good visualization, but not a good mechanism for magick.

Why bother with this? Why not just believe in whatever speaks to me, as wholeheartedly as I can?

Because when we take a good mechanism and ask, “What could I do if the world actually worked that way,” we don’t have to create excuses. Every idea it gives us is a useful, working technique for energy healing, or manifesting, or something else we care about. (And instead of excusing failures, we use them to refine our model, so next time it gives us even better techniques.)

Gather enough good mechanisms and we call it a scientific model. And that’s why science matters: Not because having the right answer is cool, but because a good model suggests good techniques that give better results.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ananael Qaa February 9, 2016 at 11:28 AM

Theoretically, you could model a retro-lottery spell using a sort of extended Schrödinger’s Cat analogy – until someone involved in the “system” of the spell observes the result, it is indeterminate, but the problem there would be that you and I would both be part of said system. So an observation by either of us would fix the results, whether or not you tell me what they are.

There’s also the telepathy problem to consider. If I decide I’m going to try and, say, make number X appear in last week’s draw, how would you rule out the possibility of my mind connecting with some source of information that already knows the numbers? That sort of insight could influence the number I pick without me being aware of it.

In practice, though, I have experimented some with the “retro” method and found it to be relatively ineffective. So I think I agree with you that it’s probably not how magick works.

Also, in your Superman example, it should be noted that everything you put forth about photographing Superman and so forth also applies to spirits, except that unlike fictional characters, spirits can actually make things happen. The difference is that real spirits exist both microcosmically and macrocosmically, while fictionals are microcosmic only. But as you say, if invoking Superman is what somebody needs to do to engage their personal magical/psychic power, I might find their methods silly, but I won’t tell them to stop as long as it works for them.

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Mike Sententia February 9, 2016 at 6:51 PM

Thanks! Well said.

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Synchronicity February 10, 2016 at 2:45 AM

What do you think about precognition?

Is it a real phenomenon or just confirmation bias?

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Mike Sententia February 10, 2016 at 11:53 AM

Today, I think precognition is real. I call it “psychic intuitions.” List of posts on that: https://magickofthought.com/tag/psychic/

I do find psychic intuitions to be more surprising than biofield healing. Before experiencing them, I did indeed expect them to be confirmation bias, or only able to predict things a person might predict anyway (like that someone you’re talking to is sick, or that they like you, or something else you could unconsciously know from subtle visual cues).

But then I worked with someone who did a lot of psychic intuitions, and the data convinced me. These days, I do them too, which convinces me even more.

By the way, that’s the other side of asking, “If this were true, what would happen?” If you try it — if you do the experiment — and that thing actually does happen, then that trumps your expectations, no matter how surprising it is. That’s really the only rule of science: Trust the experiment, not your expectations.

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George February 10, 2016 at 3:15 PM

That’s really the only rule of science: Trust the experiment, not your expectations.

Indeed! But often not adhered to, unfortunately, in cases where “science” is conflated with “concepts and narratives which have been created as a result of science”. I try to remind myself of it this way:

* Observations define the permitted models.

* Models do not define the permitted observations.

But then there’s that extra sprinkle of magic dust:

* Adopting a model may affect the likelihood of particular observations.

If there is a possible of description of “how magick works”, then I think it is to be found in that last statement. Magick is what happens when we reformat ourselves and thereby increase the experiences which are possible for us, and not anything to do with a mechanism taking place “out there” in an (unobservable) independent world.

Getting meta: Of course, adopting a narrative about a “mechanism” may affect results, but on an “as if it were true” basis, not because that’s what is “really happening”. In fact, the concept of an independent external world is precisely such a narrative.

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Mike Sententia February 11, 2016 at 3:43 PM

Well said on the bullet points about observations and models.

On the last two paragraphs, it sounds like we’re using the same word (“magick”) to refer to two fundamentally different phenomena. If I read you correctly, you are only interested in changing your own perception, your own internal reality. That’s great, it’s a valuable practice. But I’m talking about something else entirely.

When I speak of magick, I’m talking about altering the world. Not my perception of the world. Altering the world itself — that which causes and creates my perceptions.

An example makes it easy to see the difference: Imagine I have an infection. I might have a hypnotherapist hypnotize me to not notice the infection (changing my perception). Or I could go to a doctor, get antibiotics, and cure the infection (change the external world).

When I talk about “magick,” I’m talking about changing the external world, not merely changing my perception of it.

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George February 11, 2016 at 5:21 PM

I also mean altering the world!

Perhaps, though, in discussing this, I conceive of the world in a different way than you do.

We often tend to assume that the world is formatted in the same way as our world-perception. That is, that it is a “spatially-extended place unfolding in time”. Strictly, though, this the form of our experience and not the world as such. (Note that I don’t just mean colours and sounds and so on, but the basic structuring of that experience: organised as 3D-space and apparent change.)

However, if we attend to our actual experience rather than theorising about it, we notice that: the strand of experience we call the “external world” and the strand we call our “internal world” both arise in the same aware perceptual space (that we experience ourselves to be). In a very real sense, what we call the external world can be said to be “dissolved” into our space of awareness.

Having realised this as a direct experience, if we experiment with re-patterning that “external” strand of experience then we find real and persistent change occurs = magick. However, as you note, it’s also possible to Re-pattern the “internal” strand instead, which is not quite what we’re after. So the difference is crucial.

In fact things get even more “meta” here: because the apparent difference between external and internal is itself a patterning, and intentions-to-change which aren’t properly directed within that context, can target the wrong one.

Without a proper lead-in, this properly just seems confusing. The upshot is: there is no “outside” to experience; experience is structured as “world” and “person” but both arise within what-you-are; magick is the re-patterning of the former by intention-imagination.

Basically, we’re in the zone where philosophical idealism/non-dualism, materialism, and magick all make friends in the same perceiving container.

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Mike Sententia February 11, 2016 at 6:22 PM

Hi George, I’m having a hard time following. This topic sounds like a great post for your own blog, though. Best wishes!

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George February 11, 2016 at 11:12 PM

Yeah, that was a little compressed! Still, it might have clicked, one never knows. The edited highlight would be:

We eventually have to examine our assumptions afresh and ask: What is the difference between the world and our perception of it? Is the separation between the two really an aspect of experience itself, or just our common model of it?

Examining this honestly by actually looking rather than trying to think it out, we find that the difference between world and perception is indeed a fiction, but that believing in that fiction has a magickal effect.

We are then forced to adopt a subjective view of experience as the only “real” one. However, that’s a good thing! it opens up lots of new possibilities for constructing magickal mechanisms, and issues like “retrocausality” and “action at a distance” are no longer a problem.

Cheers!

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Mike Sententia February 12, 2016 at 11:42 AM

Hi George, I can tell that you’re really excited about these ideas, and you really want to share them. I can totally relate to that.

I’ve spent the past 6 years figuring out how to talk about this new system of magick that I’m really excited about. Let me share a few things I’ve learned, that might help you.

Slow down. I learned that concepts and steps that seem obvious to me are not obvious to others. In this post, I start with an obvious example, explain the concept of excusing predictions, and only then tackle the real question. Even though, in my own thinking, “excusing predictions” is a familiar concept. It took practice to make myself slow down and take tiny steps with concepts I’m already familiar with.

Present benefits. Look at this post, how I start with benefits everyone can agree on (better healing and manifesting), explain how accurate models give us those benefits, and only then start talking about how to find accurate models. A decade ago, I would have jumped right into accurate models, essentially talking about how right I was, and it didn’t win people over. You might look at your comments for places where you’re telling us the answer, instead of offering us a new useful tool.

Start your own blog. In my first few years, I published 1,000 words a day, and wrote probably twice that. I reviewed every post, read them out loud, and edited them until they felt natural to say. A large fraction, I had friends review, and I made sure to thank them for the feedback and edit based on it. That taught me to write and speak about magick, and it was a huge benefit.

(Also, if you want to share your model of magick, your own blog is the right place for it.)

Last, I want to suggest, review this post and apply it to your model. You say how your model allows retrocausality and some other things. Try asking, “If the world really worked like that, what could I do?” See how much you need to explain away. Or if you don’t feel the need to explain it away, run the experiment — if you actually can change the past, that would be an incredible, world-changing scientific finding.

I’m closing this exchange. But comments are still open for questions and ideas related to my post.

Good luck!

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Magus732 February 11, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Hi, I have an experience on time travelling magick. You see I worked in a company by contract. When the contract was terminated I got distracted and almost always when I tried to retire the last amount of money, things that were beyond my control stopped me. Then the day I finally decided to retire the money, before doing it I casted a spell with the help of my servitor. I wanted the more quantity of money legally aviable in my account. Then I had thousands of dollars, something that I didn’t spect. The reason (I later checked) was that someone didn’t make the paperwork of me out of the company. I decided to gave back most of the money to the company by the way.

But the magick was there, in making the people who didn´t checked me out of the company and all the times I couldn’t take my money because reasons beyond my control. And I had other experiences similar in that the only explanation is that magick was made from the moment of the present to act in the past. The rule seems to be that you can’t change what already happened, but you can make something that already happened to be your “fault” (causality but to a point in the past, not reverse causality). I think that magick connects to points in space, but also in time.

You could also do experiments. See, with sansations, you could for example, with a camera (to make connections of the signatures with the person in that point in space and time), see something already recorded and then decide to make the other to sense something or not. The person that had done the recording then question if they felt something and write it. If the times that you created the sensations in the future coincide with the annotations made in the past, then there you have the proof. But the catch is that you need not to know before hand which one is which. You can make the decision aleatory in the moment.

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