Archive for the ‘Fundamentals of Conscious Magick’ Category

It Starts With Intent…

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

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It starts with intent… But it doesn’t end there.

When I drive a car and want to turn, I just intend to turn. My eyes know where to look, my arms know how to move, and the steering column and tires do what they’re designed to do. But I’m not aware of any of that, at least not consciously. I’m simply intending to turn.

A teacher might reasonably say, “Don’t think about the drive shaft or tires, or how the muscles in your arms create motion. Just think about where you want the car to go. Just think about your intent.”


If the car stops working, we take it to an expert who understands the drive shaft, tires, and all the other components.

(Similarly, if my arms stop working, I go to an expert who understands the muscles, nerves, and other parts of my body.)

When Toyota wants a better car, they go to an expert who understands all those systems even more deeply.

And a race car driver? Understanding how the car works helps them position for a faster turn, select the right tires for the race, and so on.

For normal operation, intent is what matters, most of the time. But for repairs and improvements and pushing the limits of what you can do, a deeper knowledge is necessary.

In energy healing, those engineers are usually spirits, making the forces (“ethereal software”) that we, the users of those forces, channel.

Much of my practice focuses on the engineering. Lately, I’ve been working with spirits to design my healing techniques. It’s been amazing.

We discuss which signature of energy to use, and why. On simple cases, like a runner with inflamed knees, we usually agree on the energy to use. But on complex cases, like a person with autoimmune disorders, we often have different ideas. We discuss. We build on one another’s insights. And we wind up with an energy technique far better than any of us could have created on our own.

It starts with intent. But it doesn’t end there.

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Why My Students Create Their Own Visualizations

Monday, July 17th, 2017

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Last week I shared the energy meditation I use in Energy Geek Playshops. Instead of telling students what to imagine, it guides listeners through developing their own visualization. This week, I want to share some of the ideas behind that meditation, why I did it this way, and how you can use this approach in your practice.

When I started Energy Geek, I’d imagined experienced energy workers testing out techniques. And it is that, in part. But it’s also beginners, new to energy, wanting to learn with a more scientific, results-focused approach. And those beginners need some help getting started.

(Also, I found that many experienced practitioners only learned to build and send energy, not how to quiet their energy and listen. So I realized the need to teach everyone the full set of fundamental energy skills.)

But there’s a problem: I don’t use visualization. I consciously engage my ethereal muscles, which I spent a decade awakening and strengthening, then guide them through a technique. You can read about how I improved the way I build and send energy, and it’s not remotely accessible to a beginner, or really anyone who doesn’t know the specific techniques I work with. I have plans to teach these techniques, but it’ll be a series of year-long classes. I can’t teach this in a 2-hour workshop.

I had an old energy meditation I learned in my 20s, that I got in some class or book or somewhere. It was OK, but I don’t like reusing a conventional, default solution — the whole point of understanding how energy works is to develop better solutions, and that’s what I wanted.

At June’s Energy Geek, one student, herself a teacher and practitioner for decades, suggested that each person think about how energy feels to them, then make a visualization that went with that feeling: Perhaps fire for heat, water for waves, and if your energy feels like a buzzing, maybe electricity, or perhaps bees. (I like the playfulness of visualizing bees.) It was fun, and I lead a meditation where we all created our own energy visualizations.

And that got me thinking: The whole point of a visualization is to communicate with one’s own unconscious. So let’s use the language that our unconscious already uses.

A little background: There are two ways we perceive sensations. First, if someone touches my hand, the nerves in my hand fire, send signals up my arm to my brain, and I feel something. Second, if I imagine a feather brushing my hand, I can feel it. This is used in hypnosis, and it happens entirely in the brain. It seems that energy in that second type of sensation — that’s why everyone perceives energy differently, and why untrained people often don’t feel energy, because they don’t have the ethereal muscles to notice energy and nudge their brain with that perception. (More testing of energy perceptions here.)

The sensation of energy is how my unconscious mind tells me, “There’s some energy in your arm.” So when I want to tell my unconscious, “I’d like to build some energy in my arm,” let’s use that same representation: Imagine the sensation. For people who prefer visual imagery, make a visual that goes with that sensation. Same for auditory. So now we have a visualization, covering the 3 senses most commonly used for learning and visualization, all built around the language the person’s unconscious already uses to represent energy.

Next time you take a class or read a book on energy, try this: Take their visualizations, think about what it’s trying to communicate, then think about what would most effectively communicate that to your own unconscious. Build your own visualization. Because once you can do that, you can start creating your own techniques and exploring energy more deeply, fully, and independently, exploring whatever makes you most curious.

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Advanced Channeling for Beginners

Monday, May 29th, 2017

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Whether you’re doing energy healing, manifesting, or other work, you’ve probably been told to channel some force. It might be called an Egregore, a matrix, The Universe, ethereal software (my term), or something else — nearly every system of magick and healing works with these forces, and they’ve been given many names.

But there’s another way to use these forces: Directly instructing them on what you want, without the ritual. It’s a faster, more flexible method, but also more difficult to learn.

Last week, I guided a friend through doing just that. This post is my notes.

The goal: Set the energy signature of the area she was teaching in, to help people feel relaxed, safe, and receptive. She has done this before with a ritual, but she wanted to do it through a direct instruction to the ethereal software, without the ritual.

Here’s how I guided her to do that:

First, engage your ethereal software. Think about the ritual, or the feel of the energy as you do the ritual. Think about reaching out to the force you use. If you know mental posture, engage it.

(This post is for people who already use ethereal software through rituals. If you’ve never channeled one of these forces, see this series.)

Next, engage the part of your mind that your ethereal software wants to communicate with. Think about what it’s like to receive an intuition, where in your mind you receive it — that’s the part of your mind that the ethereal software talks with. Focus on that part of your mind, engage it as you think your request.

While engaging that part of your mind, think about what you want: “Create an energy field with this signature.” Make it an explicit request — at first, my friend just thought about the energy signature she wanted, without the “create this for me” part of the intent, and it didn’t work. That’s because thinking about the energy signature is like telling a friend, “I like pizza,” when what you really mean is, “Let’s get pizza.”

After the request, think about the details: Where you want the energy field (filling this room, or 5′ around me, etc) type of signature (think about the feeling of the energy you’ve experienced in the past, with the ritual), and how long you’d like the field to last (ongoing, or until I leave the area, etc). In computer programming, these are the “arguments” to the function, so I’ll often use that term.

Once my friend got the procedure, it took less than a minute to create the energy field — much faster than her ritual. That’s one of the benefits of using direct instructions like this.

But there’s actually a bigger benefit that she hasn’t seen yet: Let’s suppose she wanted a different energy field, maybe to make people uneasy so they don’t enter an area. Without direct instructions, she would have had to learn a ritual for that kind of field. Who does she learn that from? Does such a ritual even exist? I have no idea. But with a direct instruction, she can just request a field, specify that new type of energy, and she’s done. For me, that flexibility is the main reason to learn to interact directly with ethereal software.

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The 3 Main Techniques I Use to Feel Energy

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

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When I first felt energy, it was a tingling, a pleasant pressure. I had a notion of different types of energy, which I call signatures and others call colors or frequencies, but I couldn’t feel the difference back then.

I think a lot of practitioners are in that situation, feeling energy intuitively, wanting to feel it more precisely but not knowing how. It didn’t come naturally to me — I had to figure it out over a couple of decades. If you’re in that situation, trying to figure out techniques to feel energy more precisely, here are the techniques that worked for me:

Single Intuitive Connection: This is where I started, connecting to objects (the body, a tree, a spirit) and feeling their energy, without thinking about what exactly I was feeling or how I was doing it.

(Terminology: “The thing I’m connected to” is too long. We’ll call that “the object,” understanding that it might not be a physical object you can pick up.)

Quieting My Energy: In my late teen years, I wondered what I was feeling when I felt energy. Was it just the object’s energy? Or was it some combination of its energy, my reaction, and unconscious changes to my own energy? After posing the question, it was obviously the combination. So I practiced quieting my energy, holding it steady and unchanging while I listened. That way, any changes I felt would come from the object, not from myself. I spent several years learning this, and still use it today. When you practice this, remember that the point isn’t to reduce your energy, just to steady it. If you think of your energy as a body of water, you want it to be calm, not empty.

Multiple Connections: Sometimes spirits would connect to me and drain my energy. To chase the spirit away, I needed to follow the spirit’s connection back to it. This was sometimes easy, but sometimes a more skillful spirit would use a complex connection that would shift its signature, and I had trouble following the connection through that shift. I needed a way to discern the new signature of the spirit’s connection. So I developed a technique: At the point where I lost the connection, I’d make many of my own connections, each with a different signature. Usually, one of my connections would match the new signature of the spirit’s connection, and I’d feel my connection touching the spirit’s connection. (If not, I’d make even more connections, in an even broader range of signatures.)

This became my technique for following all types of connections, not just from spirits, but also the connections from my own ethereal muscles to my mind, the connections that provide power to those ethereal muscles, and the connections of any other energetic structure I was trying to understand. As often happens, a technique I developed for one purpose (defense) wound up being far more useful elsewhere.

Splitting the Signature: This is going to be a bit technical. A connection has a signature. It only senses energy in that signature. If the connection’s signature matches the object’s signature, we say it is aligned, and I feel the object strongly. If the connection’s signature is similar to the object’s signature, but doesn’t match it well, we say it is partially aligned, and I feel the object weakly. The problem is, if I’m feeling a weak (partially-aligned) signature, I have to guess at what changes would make the signature more fully aligned, which is slow and often fails.

In my 20s, I developed a technique to solve this. Rather than using one connection that has the full signature, I break the signature down into its components, and make one connection per component. I align each component individually, then combine them into the full signature. This is more precise and reliable than trying to align the whole signature at once, and gives me a clearer view of the energy structures I’m working with.

By splitting those components into sub-components, I can get an even better-aligned signature, with an even clearer view. For the past decade or so, much of my work with sensory connections has focused on using smaller and smaller connections, with smaller and smaller sub-components of signatures. (I’ve previously talked about this as signature scales, from a large-scale full signature to small-scale sub-components.)

Summary: That was a quick overview of roughly two decades of work. For those of you developing sensory techniques yourself, I hope this gave you some ideas. And for everyone else, I hope you enjoyed seeing how I built the tools I use to explore energy.

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How I Sense Energy: Notes from Teaching a Friend

Monday, September 26th, 2016

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When I sense energy, I use a technique called sensory connections, which gives a more precise sense than just feeling energy intuitively. A friend, trained in Ayurveda and Marma, is learning the technique for her practice, and I want to share some notes from our session:

We all work with the same ethereal structures (though we call them different names). You can use sensory connections with Marma or other practices to more precisely view the structures you’re working with.

Here’s the basic sensory connection: Make a connection like you’d use to send energy, but instead of sending energy, just listen. Keep your energy steady, quiet, not low energy but just not shifting. Feel the signature of the energy on the other end of the connection. Many practitioners, including my friend, already do this intuitively.

In practice, we’ll use a network of connections throughout the area we’re working with (such as a person’s knee). Each connection feels the energy signature of one point in that area’s biofield.

The signature of the sensory connection should match the signature of whatever you’re sensing.

To match a signature, we need to talk about signature scale. Think of the overall signature as being like a molecule, made of atoms, made of electrons protons and neutrons. You can get an OK match if you align your signature to their signature at the biggest scale (molecules, in that analogy), but you get a much better match if you align at a smaller scale (protons in the analogy), then use that alignment to build the signature up to the large-scale again.

More on matching signature: You’ll feel when a connection aligns well, when it aligns badly, or when it’s somewhere in between. So take the connection you want to use, break it down into its elements (electrons and protons in the analogy), and see which of those elements align well. Keep those, toss out the others. Then try combining those elements in various ways (to create atom-scale in the analogy), see which align well, keep them and throw out the rest. Repeat until you have a full signature.

I keep saying “in the analogy” because we’re not aligning to atoms or protons. It’s an analogy, not a scientific statement.

The smaller you go when you align, the clearer the view is. A lot of getting better with sensory connections is about aligning smaller scales (analogy: quarks, which make up protons).

Each tissue will have a different signature. With practice, you can learn the signature of muscle vs tendon vs bone energy. To start, touch your thigh (or other big muscle), connect, feel the skin and muscle, and learn to recognize their signatures. Then move on to a joint — you’ll recognize the muscle and skin already, plus you’ll see some new signatures correspond to tendon / ligament (they have very similar signatures) and cartilage. Use an anatomy book to help identify the tissues.

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The Technique I Use for Sensing Energy

Monday, June 6th, 2016

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Most of my work builds on one technique: Sensory connections. That’s what I use to observe the biofield, energy, ethereal structures, and everything else I work with. Today I’m going to discuss how they work, how I developed them, and the first few steps of learning the technique yourself.

Here’s the basics: Energy seems to follow connections, and energy workers often send energy along a connection. With sensory connections, we make a connection (to a person’s knee, for example) and absorb a tiny amount of their knee’s energy to measure it. It’s like how a thermometer absorbs a tiny amount of heat to measure temperature. In practice, I’ll use a whole network of connections, sensing the biofield of each tissue in the knee, or feeling the structure of a person’s ethereal muscles and the ethereal software or spirits they’re connected to.

But it didn’t start out like that. In my teens, I would look at a person and connect to them. It wasn’t really a technique, just something that came naturally, as it does for many people. And I’d connect to people, trees, spirits, feel their energy, wonder about what was happening.

The first sensory connection was simply quieting my energy. That’s the term I used then, “quieting,” meaning to hold my own energy steady in my body, and to not push energy out the connection, so any change, any movement, any energy on the connection came from whatever I was connected to, not me. I think I spent several years just playing with quieting my own energy, quieting my connections, and learning to listen to the energy.

Golden Gate BridgeAt the time I didn’t know much about shielding, and spirits would sometimes drain my energy. I’d feel their connection, feel my own energy getting wonky, and I wanted to follow the connection back to the spirit to chase it off. So I developed a technique: Starting from where I felt the spirit’s connection, I’d make a bunch of connections all around it and feel for which one of them was touching the spirit’s connection (which had a distinct signature). I’d keep that one, drop the others, and repeat, building up a set of my own connections all along the spirit’s connection, spaced close together, like the supports of a suspension bridge. When I got to the spirit, I’d send it an intense energy in an odd signature, unpleasant enough to get it to stop bothering me.

I called that technique “tracing” a connection, and it may have been my first technique ever. And just like today, I practiced each step until it became automatic, first learning to find which of my connections had hit the spirit’s connection, then making another set of connections and repeating. Today that entire process is unconscious, and I’d forgotten how difficult it was at first, but looking back as I write this post, it was just as hard as anything I’m learning today. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, and recalling this feels satisfying, like the techniques I find hard now will one day come just as easily.

I don’t recall when I changed from tracing a connection (a 1-D line) to viewing a whole 3D region. I know I had that by the time I focused on energy healing in my late 20s, and recall how hard it was to view a 3D region in someone else — I’d mostly worked on myself, my own ethereal muscles and mind and other structures, and had to adjust everything to the other person’s signature to view them properly. It took about a year to get comfortable with that.

Along the way I also learned to connect to the body, mind, and ethereal structures (each uses a different type of connection, with a different underlying signature), and learned to follow connections that started as one type then shifted to another. And in my 30s, my focus was on using smaller and smaller connections (the smaller my sensory connection, the more precisely I can view whatever I’m looking at) and on precisely matching the signature of whatever I was looking at (“signature alignment”).

For the readers already exploring Direct Magick: Hopefully this gives you some ideas and guidance around how to sense all of the ethereal structures we work with. Comment or email and let me know which step you’re on, and I’ll see about posting more details.

And for everyone else: I hope you enjoyed this quick tour through one of the foundational techniques of Direct Magick, and that it showed you one way that Direct Magick is different from other systems, and that maybe you got some ideas to try in your own work.

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Speaking to Spirits: How Disembodied Voices Might Work

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

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If disembodied voices gave you useful information, what would you think? Spirits? Psychosis? And where would you go for help and guidance?

Ladonna Christy asks:

Dear Mike: I am a first time reader of your site. I have been interested being able to hear the spirit guardian who has been with me for over 9 years now. I noticed you mentioned that you will not hear them out loud. What do you think of what I call ( my aunt’s favorite name for it) a “behind the wall” voice? I can hear him at times like a voice behind a brick wall. It isn’t clear but seems to be out loud somewhat like a distant radio. The only thing is if he speaks full sentences, I only clearly pick up a word or two. Yes and no answers are easy but that doesn’t always happen. He is patient with me but sometimes gets annoyed when I just don’t get the message. I will try your technique. I will get back to you if I find I am hearing the whole sentences better and clearer. What is your take on “out loud”? I am not schizophrenic because he has proven himself time and time again. Also if I were schizophrenic I am sure I would hear out loud clearly all the time and the “voice” would be telling me destructive things or something like that, right?

One of the tragedies of the modern world is that we’ve medicalized mystical experiences. Last night, after I shared some of my energy healing experiences, a friend opened up about her mystical experiences, and we became much closer. Sharing these experiences used to be common and connective, but today no one shares them, so we believe we’re the only one with these experiences, and they become isolating. That’s a tragedy.

I’m not qualified to speak about schizophrenia, but I will say that, in many cultures throughout history, receiving useful information from disembodied voices would make you a shaman. I just googled “psychologist shaman” and got a bunch of results, including some PhD psychologists who are also practicing shamen. If you’re distressed, reach out to them — even if they don’t live near you, many psychologists offer sessions over the phone or skype. They can help rule out psychological issues, and also help you decide what direction you want to take with this.

You also ask some technical questions about talking with spirits. Those I can answer:

You mentioned that you will not hear [spirits] out loud. What do you think of what I call a “behind the wall” voice? I can hear him at times like a voice behind a brick wall. It isn’t clear but seems to be out loud somewhat like a distant radio.

I need to lay a little groundwork before I can answer that. I’m going to start with touch, then energy, then answer you on communication.

If you touch your leg, the nerves in your leg respond, sending a signal up your spine to your brain. I’ll call this a “direct sensation.”

If you instead close your eyes and imagine someone touching your leg, you’ll probably feel an odd tingle, different than touch but definitely a sensation. Try it so you know what I’m talking about. Maybe imagine looking at a hand touching your leg, or imagine it almost touching you, and really focus. Feel what I’m talking about? That’s entirely in your brain. It’s still a real phenomenon, a real sensation, but the cause is different. We’ll call this a “referred sensation,” borrowing from the term referred pain.

We can think about direct and referred sensations with energy, too. A directly felt energy would affect the nerves of my leg, producing a signal up my spine to my brain. A referred sensation of energy would mean that the ethereal muscles in my mind notice the energy in my leg and create a sensation in my brain, without involving the nerves in my leg or spine at all.

Based on testing, when I feel energy, it’s a referred sensation, and I suspect that’s true of others as well.

Aside: Why don’t non-energy-workers feel energy? Their ethereal muscles aren’t engaged, so there’s nothing to create that sensation in their brain. If we could do something with energy to activate the nerves in the leg and produce direct sensations, then everyone would probably feel that. Yes, this is part of my current research.

OK, now we’re ready for voices. All communication with spirits is like referred sensations: The person’s ethereal muscles create activation in their brain, transmitting the message. If the activation in the brain is in visual regions, we get visions, half-seen and half-imagined. If it’s in a region for thinking, we get ideas simply appearing in consciousness, feeling a bit different than one’s own thoughts. And if it’s in auditory regions, we get words, half-imagined and half-heard, perhaps like a distant radio.

That’s my best guess on the mechanism of what you’re experiencing.

And her second question:

The only thing is if he speaks full sentences, I only clearly pick up a word or two. Yes and no answers are easy but that doesn’t always happen. He is patient with me but sometimes gets annoyed when I just don’t get the message.

Ten or 15 years ago, I started learning a set of techniques for communication. These were based on how spirits communicate: How they read thoughts and write messages to the mind. I was learning to do those steps myself, to make it easier for the spirits, and just because I was curious. Instead of using energy to activate thoughts in my mind, the spirit would give me a message and I’d place it into my own mind. And rather than the spirit reading my brain activity, I’d gather the energy signatures created by my thoughts and send them to the spirit. By learning to handle the communication myself, I became able to communicate with more spirits, including ones who don’t work with humans often and aren’t great at reading thoughts or writing messages.

After I learned my first technique, I started verifying messages. I’d have the spirit send a message directly to my brain, then send the same message for me to read myself, to verify the new technique. I discovered that the new technique was much better, and that when the spirit would send the message to my brain I’d miss most of it. Often, I’d only receive a few words of each sentence, along with a general tone or overall intent. Those words and intent went into my unconscious, which created a full sentence and gave it to my conscious mind. That full sentence was what I thought of as the “message,” but most of the words were from me. So I guess I’m saying: Yes, that happened to me too, and I think it’s fairly common.

As you say, yes and no is much easier, because there is no precision to miss. The word isn’t even required, just the tone is sufficient. For a while, I’d confirm every message I got, “I think you said [whatever], is that correct?” Then wait for a yes or no.

A technique I didn’t have at the time, but have since figured out: If you can easily receive a yes / no, then communicate using tarot cards. Ask your question, deal the cards, and go through the various meanings for each. Pause at each meaning, and wait for a yes or a no. This turns an open-ended question into a series of yes / no questions, which is much easier for the spirit to communicate. I discuss that here and here, and I’ll be teaching a class on this soon in San Francisco, with an accompanying post on this blog.

Hope it helps. Good luck!

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The Heart of Direct Magick: Love and Engineering

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

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Sonia asks:

Where is the heart in all this? This – like connecting to the software hehe ;-) – is all braintalk to me.

In all you have experimented. Have you noticed a difference between just bringing sort the idea of simple deep emotion of “love and light” to a cell then whatever technical precise command you give… ?

(Read her full comment here.)

You’re right, this is different than focusing on love and light. It’s a different way of doing energy healing and magick. It won’t feel easy or intuitive the first time, and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s OK.

I want to share the heart of Direct Magick for me. Why I do this. Because this intellectual approach ultimately is in service of love.

Four years ago, one of the loves of my life, Lisa, had chronic hives. She’d had them for 9 months, seen doctors, was taking prescription antihistamines, and she was still getting worse. She told me, “If I knew I’d be like this for the rest of my life, I’d kill myself.” I don’t think that was hyperbole.

My first healing technique failed. So did my second. Hives is simply too complex of an illness to get much result by focusing on love. My unconscious didn’t know the right healing technique to use, so focusing on that intent wouldn’t get us anywhere — my unconscious would say, “Yeah, I get that you want to heal her. I want to heal her too, but I don’t know how.”

But we did succeed. She researched the medical science. I developed energies to target the specific tissues involved. After we got the right technique, her hives stopped literally overnight: We did the healing session after dinner, and the next morning she woke without hives for the first time in months.

I practice magick in this intellectual, problem-solving way because I care about solving problems. Not because that’s clever or cool, but because that’s how I help the people I love.

Another example: Today, a friend has relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. She has mild pain, numbness and odd sensations, but she’s mostly in remission and can live a normal life. But no one knows when it’ll relapse.

Like hives, MS is an autoimmune disorder. Like hives, it’s too complex to get much result just by wanting to, by focusing on intent and love and light. But maybe, if we’re smart and diligent and lucky, we can adapt the healing technique for hives to also help her. I’ve been working on that, on and off, for 8 months, and I’m going to keep at it until we get somewhere.

There are healing techniques I want to get out into the world. One for depression I developed for myself in 2013, which I need to adapt for others. Several for people with chronic joint pain, insomnia, and infections. And other healing techniques for people with pain from chemotherapy and advanced cancer.

Focusing on intent and love is great for communicating your intent to your unconscious. And if your unconscious knows how to solve that problem, then awesome, you’ll get good results. But all those things I just listed? My unconscious didn’t know how to do any of them. Solving those problems required intellect and engineering to develop the techniques.

So the heart of Direct Magick is this: Understand your magick. Research the problem you’re solving. Engineer a new technique. Then use it to help the people you love.

The purpose is love. But the path is science and engineering.

Also, a new front page. It’s been on my list, and writing this post finally showed me where to start.

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Do Wiccans Use Ethereal Software?

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

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Susie asks:

I love reading your blog. I have a question. Is your theories about magick can apply to all types of magick, like Witchcraft or casting spells?

Thank you! And good question.

I started developing Direct Magick in the mid-90s. At the time, Chaos Magick was influencing just about everyone. Chaos Magick starts with an excellent question: So many systems of magick, with different terminology and different explanations, produce essentially the same results. Why?

(Chaos Magick’s answer is that “belief is the tool,” that magick works however you believe it does. But if that were the case, then all those different systems with different explanations and different beliefs would produce different results. In other words, belief cannot be an answer to that question.)

Back to the story. Often, the question is more important than the answer, and I think that’s the case here. Because it’s a great question.

Why do all those different systems produce similar results?

Here’s my answer: When two different actions produce the same result, that’s usually because they both tap into the same phenomenon, and share the same underlying mechanism. They might call it different names — The Universe, Natural Laws, Ethereal Software — but they’re all referring to the same phenomenon, the same mechanism, the same object out in the world.

The question then becomes, “What’s the most precise / useful way to tap into that mechanism?” That’s the question behind most of Direct Magick.

(Another valid version is, “What’s the fastest / easiest-to-teach way to tap into that mechanism?” That would produce a totally-different-but-also-excellent system of magick.)

So, Susie, my answer is yes. All magick, from Witchcraft to spells to rituals to Reiki, probably shares one (or a few) mechanisms. And Direct Magick is my current-best attempt to explain and harness that mechanism.

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Chewy Ideas on Magick for Engineers

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

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This post summarizes my science-focused thinking about magick, written for non-mages.

It comes from a friend who’s a professor of religion, who asks:

I have some science and religion double majors and I wanted them to see the work of an engineer on this question of “magic.” Do you have something that I can give to them to chew on?

Magic vs Magick

Magic and magick aren’t the same thing.

Historically, “magic” means a thing operates without any (known) mechanism:

  • Harry Potter magic just does what it does, no underlying mechanism.
  • When pre-scientific people saw placebo and hypnosis, they wouldn’t understand the mechanism, and called it magic.
  • Same with any sufficiently advanced technology — the mechanism is known to the advanced society (who sees it as technology), but is unknown and unknowable to the less advanced society (who see it as magic).

So that’s magic-with-a-c: Stuff we don’t understand, stuff outside science. Magic takes “X just happens, no cause-and-effect needed” as an acceptable explanation. And if we ever do scientifically explore a phenomenon, it is no longer part of magic-with-a-c.

Magick-with-a-k is simply a set of phenomena: Energy healing, creating luck, and a few others. We could choose to view them as things that just happen, outside cause-and-effect. Or we can view them as part of the natural world, and explore them, understand them, harness them the same way we harness any other natural phenomenon.

Thus, while magic-with-a-c is the opposite of science, magick-with-a-k can (and should) be explored scientifically.

Magick Isn’t Religion

Many religions include magickal practices, just as many religions include specific things you must wear, eat, or say. But that doesn’t make clothing, food, or speaking fundamentally religious. Personally, I’m an atheist, and my practice of magick isn’t connected to any religion.

The history of human knowledge is a steady shift from supernatural explanations to natural / scientific ones. We used to explain the rising of the sun as Ra in a chariot, but now we know it’s planetary rotation. Lightening used to be Zeus, now it’s Maxwell’s equations. Today, neuroscience is tackling consciousness, and we’re seeing that shift from free-floating (supernatural) thoughts to a phenomena that emerges from (natural) nerves. How long until we add psychic phenomena and energy healing to that list?

(Hat tip to Greta Christina for this observation. Also see Richard Carrier on natural vs supernatural.)

Spirits as Artificial Intelligence

I work with spirits. How do those fit into a materialist universe?

(Materialism = Thoughts, ideas, and consciousness aren’t things themselves, but emerge from the interaction of non-mental things like nerves.)

I think of magick as driven by ethereal matter. Like dark matter, ethereal matter interacts in limited ways with ordinary matter. It can be studied. With luck, it will some day be part of standard physics.

Spirits, then, are constructed from the ethereal equivalent of nerves. Or transistors. They’re artificial intelligences, built from ethereal matter instead of silicone.

Random Testing vs Science

Lots of mages experiment. They try a new ritual, a new rune, see what happens.

That’s excellent. The world needs more people testing their ideas, gathering data, ensuring they only believe in things that actually work.

But science is bigger than testing. Science starts with a model — not a story about the world, not a single idea like “belief” or “information” or “spirits,” but a model with moving parts that makes predictions. In magick, those predictions are often new techniques or rituals that you’d only think of because you have that model. Then the testing serves to confirm, refute, or refine the model.

Of course, 90% of the work is coming up with a model worth testing. And, just like drawing an accurate map of a city requires walking its streets, building a worthwhile model of magick requires doing a lot of magick. That’s where to start.

The Start of a Model

If you want to see my full model, read my book-in-progress, An Initiation into Direct Magick.

But I’m hoping you’ll start exploring and pondering your own model. So I want to give you a few ideas to start:

Many systems of magick produce similar results. Mostly that’s energy healing and luck. This suggests a common underlying mechanism that all systems of magick tap into. (If they operated by different mechanisms, it’s unlikely they’d produce the same result.)

That’s the starting point of Chaos Magick, too. It was the fashionable system when I started, and its answer is belief — “belief is the tool.” But “belief” doesn’t explain why everything is similar. In fact, if magick was “whatever you believe, that happens,” I’d expect everyone to produce wildly different results. (Belief can be a tool for driving your mind to perform magick, but it can’t be the underlying mechanism.)

Magick is complex, and complexity isn’t free. Whatever that mechanism is, it has to understand details of altering the world. It has to be able to predict which events will lead to your desired outcome, and make those events happen, in real time. Einstein said, “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler” — I see many models that make things much too simple.

Scientific Miracles — My Faith

I want to leave you with the source of my faith.

Every time we’ve understood a new part of science, it’s lead to amazing things. Miracles, if you will.

Newton plus 300 years lead to human flight.

Chemistry plus thermodynamics let us land on the moon.

Relativity plus lenses let us gaze into space, seeing light from the first seconds of the formation of the universe.

Quantum physics lead to transistors, and the computer you’re reading this on right now.

Evolution plus germ theory lead to vaccines and antibiotics.

DNA lead to stem cells and new medical treatments, and may one day lead to human immortality.

Science is the source of tangible miracles you and I experience every day.

I don’t know where the study of ethereal matter leads, but I have faith it leads somewhere miraculous.

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